By: Tod Perry
Women in Saudi Arabia are standing up in opposition to the kingdom’s $3.5 billion investment in Uber.
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that bans women from driving and the investment is seen as a way for the country and Uber to profit from oppression. To travel freely, women in the conservative Islamic country are forced to either be driven by a male family member or pay for services such as Uber.
“They’re investing in our pain, in our suffering,” Hatoon al-Fassi, a Saudi women’s historian who teaches at Qatar University, said. “This institutionalizes women’s inferiority and dependency, and it turns women into an object of investment.” Women in Saudi Arabia who are caught behind the wheel are subject fines and, in some cases, flogging.
To protest Uber’s partnership with the kingdom, Saudi women have posted pictures of themselves deleting the Uber app from their phones on social media.
Jill Hazelbaker, an Uber spokeswoman, says the partnership gives women additional transportation options in spite of the driving ban. “Of course we think women should be allowed to drive,” she told The New York Times.
“In the absence of that, we have been able to provide extraordinary mobility that didn’t exist before – and we’re incredibly proud of that.” On a macro level, it appears the Saudi government and Uber are colluding to profit from a captive market: oppressed women