a person who flouts the law, especially by failing to comply with a law that is difficult to enforce effectively.
Since it’s one of my favorite words, this was bound to be the title of my next post. In this case, I don’t plan on referring to the car, but rather the passenger in a driverless car.
How could a passenger be a scofflaw? In Saudi Arabia, it is not permitted for a woman to drive. I specifically say “not permitted” instead of illegal, as the linked article indicates that it is an interpretation, not a specific legal code, that underlies the prohibition. Saudi women are forced to hire drivers or rely on male family members for most transportation. In theory, a female occupant of an otherwise unoccupied car may be considered a scofflaw since they would normally be considered an illegal driver.
I would hope that Saudi prosecutors and officials could, in good conscience, interpret the existing law to allow an automated car to drive a woman to and from her destination. This would be because she didn’t drive – the car did. For those considering that it’s is paramount that a woman’s male relations watch every move, the men in her family could and would oversee the car’s schedule.
Of course, I think it would be better for such freedom-restricting views to change. It would be far preferred for Saudi men to accept women as drivers themselves. Expecting others to change their views may not be reasonable, but expecting automated cars to change society most certainly is.
What might the results of this be? First of all, greater travel may open up more opportunities for education for Saudi women. While male/female groupings may continue to be frowned upon, in the digital age, genders need not mix if they are properly educated in technology. Additionally, with the advent of automated cars a different work or workplace could go to the women. For example, women could have a set of garments, and the sewing apparatus, sent to them in a “car.” They could then work at in the vehicle, while remaining in the home driveway. Following completion of the work, they could return the car and finished product.
While a little dated, this article on Saudi unemployment offers some sobering statistics in light of a possible increase in female workforce participation. This article seems to echo the core thesis that high unemployment is an issue in the kingdom. This quote from the end is telling:
If Saudi unemployment is a problem, it is almost solely because of high unemployment among females.
However, female unemployment in Saudi Arabia is not just about economics. There are many cultural and regulatory hurdles…
The article continues to state a hope that a governmental commission may change the unemployment issue. The automated car may very well make women far more employable than anything the crown can do to change culture.