In Saudi Arabia, women are still treated as second-class citizens.
In the highly restrictive society
, women can't marry or even open a bank account without permission, dress the way they see fit, travel out of the country or even seek medical treatment without the input of a man. Women are currently not even allowed to drive a car. But that will change starting June 24th when the prohibition against women drivers will finally be lifted.
The ban was officially abolished last September when the king issued a royal decree rescinding it. However, giving him and the rest of the royal family credit for lifting a ban that was already ridiculous would be like thanking a bully for deciding to stop hitting you.
Instead, the real credit goes to the brave women activists in the desert kingdom who push the government to end the prohibition. Unfortunately, now that the ban's lifting is actually in sight, some of these very women have now become targets of the Saudi government. Several news outlets report that up to 11 women's rights activists have been arrested in recent weeks.
Human rights organizations suggest it may be a push to hide these heroes from public view so that the royal family can take all the credit.
Regardless of the reason, these women don't belong behind bars and the government of Saudi Arabia should release them at once. According to the most recent data, Toyota is the best selling brand in the Middle Eastern nation, with more than 30% of the automobile market.
As the country's biggest supplier of cars — cars that soon millions of women could get a chance to drive — Toyota should support the women of Saudi Arabia because these women will soon become an important part of their customer base. Care2 is challenging Toyota to speak up in support of the women activists who fought for the right to drive and to tell the government they believe they should be free. Sign the petition and urge Toyota to come out against this ridiculous and despotic crackdown.