Amnesty International issued a statement yesterday, calling on Saudi authorities to stop treating women as second-class citizens and open the Kingdom's roads to women drivers.
Amnesty believes that the long-running Saudi ban on female drivers is a violation of human rights.
Not allowing women behind the wheel in Saudi Arabia is an immense barrier to their freedom of movement, and severely limits their ability to carry out everyday activities as they see fit, such as going to work or the supermarket, or picking up their children from school, the Amnesty statement read in a quote from Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
Saudi Arabia is currently the only Muslim country imposing such a ban, and many Saudi clerics are up-in-arms over the religious ruling at its base.
Muslim Prophet Mohammed was alive long before the invention of the car, and there is no protocol for automotive decency in the Qur'an and subsequent Muslim holy texts.
Saudi women took to the streets today to contest a fatwa-- or ruling on Islamic holy law-- banning women from driving. International media reported that there was none of the expected retaliation from Saudi police forces.
Cruising for change, one Saudi woman drove around Riyadh for 45 minutes today 'to make a point,' she told the Associated Press.
But riding with chauffeurs in cabs and private cars has proven dangerous for Saudi women.
Earlier this month, a Saudi woman was raped by her chauffeur.
Sexual violence and harassment by unknown male drivers was one of the reasons cited by Manal al-Sharif in a video that she posted on YouTube of herself driving and explaining why the right to drive is essential for Saudi women. Al-Sharif was jailed for a little over a week after she posted the YouTube video, but the response from Saudi women and international women's rights activists was overwhelming.
In Washington D.C. Wednesday, women circled the Saudi Arabian embassy in solidarity with Al-Sharif and Saudi women.
With the help of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, it was Al-Sharif who coordinated today's mass-movement, proving to a Western feminist audience that there are indeed women's rights movements born and bred in the Middle East.
Saudi King Abdullah's response -- or rather the lack thereof -- to today's protest, at least thus far, is in line with another gesture to ease another restriction on the lives of Saudi women.
The king asked that all shops selling lingerie and women's personal items replace their male staff with females, according to Emirates 24/7.
The edict is the result of a moralist campaign on Facebook, comprised of women who felt uncomfortable about men ogling their breasts to determine her bra sizes and asking inappropriate questions.
The gesture is also meant to solve the problem of Saudi Arabia's 10 percent unemployment rate, believed to be particularly high among women.