The 150 good men who make up Saudi Arabia’s High Religious Council are worried. In 10 years, they say, there won’t be a virgin left in their country. They didn’t specify the minimum age of the girls on the receiving end of this moral catastrophe, but, out of respect for that august body, one has to assume double digits. Even so, disaster looms.
Now here’s the good news: the Saudi theological consensus is that this pandemic of defloration is preventable. All it takes is to keep in place the existing ban on issuing driving licences to women. For, should the ban be repealed, warns the Council, ‘the Kingdom will suffer such disasters as a sharp increase in prostitution, homosexuality, pornography and divorce.’ ‘Let women drive, and in 10 years there won’t be a virgin left,’ declares Prof. Kamal Subhi who published the results of the discussion.
Now I’m not sure about the one-to-one causal relationship between driving and chastity. It’s true that most American women, and quite a few British, have lost their virginity in the back seat of a car. But, from observation, they were usually passengers, not drivers of the van of iniquity. It’s also a safe statistical assumption that these days most young ladies enter womanhood before they qualify for a driving licence. After all, isn’t that what sex education is all about? As to ‘prostitution, homosexuality, pornography and divorce’, one has to feel that the vehicular implications of such outrages are even more tenuous. But then the Council didn’t claim universal validity — it’s only in Saudi Arabia that girls would become prostitutes, men homosexuals, and both divorced if women got behind the wheel.
However, even when questioning the global validity of the Council’s findings, one has to agree with their conclusion, especially if one is a man. I know we’re all for equality in diversity or diversity in equality, but gentlemen — between us boys, and I promise not to tell anybody — how often do you curse female drivers in an average week? How often do you put your hand on the horn, even within city limits, where you aren’t allowed to honk? Let me tell you, the mullahs are on to something.
Last year I was chatting with a retired female MP who said that Muslims didn’t even allow women to drive. Yes, I agreed, but I don’t like their religion in spite of that. It took the formidable lady a full minute to realise I was joking. And then another 10 to realise that I wasn’t.