This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Driving and Reproductive Health--Really?

The news has been alive (fortunately!) with the story from Saudi Arabia of a well-organized campaign by women there to show themselves driving, in defiance of the government, in order to try to change Saudi policy that effectively prohibits women from driving. Technically, there is no law against women driving, but the government refuses to issue licenses to women. The Washington Post has a list of other countries where the status of women is, believe it or not, even lower than in Saudi Arabia:
The World Economic Forum, which publishes the preeminent ranking on gender gap issues, ranked Saudi Arabia 10th from the bottom in its 2013 report -- ahead of Mali, Morocco, Iran, Cote d’Ivoire, Mauritania, Syria, Chad, Pakistan and Yemen. Women’s rights abuses are by no means limited to North Africa, West Africa or the Middle East, though that’s where we tend to hear such stories most frequently.
Opponents of the right of women to drive would seem largely to be insecure men, but rather than admitting that as the motivation, The Economist has discovered that at least one prominent Saudi has invoked the issue of reproduction into the discussion:
Last month Sheikh Salah al-Luhaydan, a well-known cleric who also practises psychology, claimed on a popular Saudi website that it has been scientifically proved that driving “affects the ovaries” and leads to clinical disorders in the children of women who are foolish enough to drive.
I'm guessing that the Sheikh reads the same science journals as does Michelle Bachman.


  1. Now, I'm confused too. Does driving really affect the child of a pregnant woman?

    1. Only if you smoke and drink while you drive!