Saudi cleric says women who drive risk damaging their ovaries

Sun Sep 29, 2013 12:34pm EDT
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RIYADH (Reuters) - A conservative Saudi Arabian cleric has said women who drive risk damaging their ovaries and bearing children with clinical problems, countering activists who are trying to end the Islamic kingdom's male-only driving rules.

A campaign calling for women to defy the ban in a protest drive on October 26 has spread rapidly online over the past week and gained support from some prominent women activists. On Sunday, the campaign's website was blocked inside the kingdom.

In an interview published on Friday on the website, Sheikh Saleh bin Saad al-Lohaidan said women aiming to overturn the ban on driving should put "reason ahead of their hearts, emotions and passions".

Reuters earlier wrongly identified him as Sheikh Saleh bin Mohammed al-Lohaidan, a member of the Senior Council of Scholars, one of the top religious bodies in the birthplace of Islam.

By contrast, Sheikh Saleh bin Saad al-Lohaidan, the person quoted in the report, is a judicial adviser to an association of Gulf psychologists.

His comments reflect the extent of opposition to women driving among some conservatives in Saudi Arabia.

"If a woman drives a car, not out of pure necessity, that could have negative physiological impacts as functional and physiological medical studies show that it automatically affects the ovaries and pushes the pelvis upwards," he told Sabq.

"That is why we find those who regularly drive have children with clinical problems of varying degrees," he said.

He did not cite specific medical studies to support his arguments.   Continued...