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Entries in Driving (3)

Wednesday
Jul112012

Sexist Parking Plan? German Mayor Creates Male-Only Spots

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(TRIBERG, Germany) -- In Gallus Strobel’s 10 years as mayor of Triberg, a small town in Germany’s Black Forest region, his bid to create two male and 12 female parking spots in the town’s new public lot is one of his greatest feats, he said.

“I have much pleasure with this idea,” Strobel told ABC News. “I decided last month to do this as a question of humor for our society, and as a question of justice.”

By “justice,” Strobel said he meant that allowing for two difficult-to-maneuver and potentially dangerous spots in the parking complex to remain in use, to be challenged by “better” male drivers.

“It’s a joke,” Strobel said. “Everyone in Triberg thinks it is a joke. We looked at the two parking spaces and we said, ‘They could be dangerous for your car,’ so at the same time, we decided to make them for men, and then give 12 others for women. ”

On June 8, the mayor unveiled Triberg’s new parking lot, which he said was geared to the 60,000 or so tourists a year who flock to the town – population 5,000 – to check out the country’s highest waterfalls and what’s called the world’s biggest cuckoo clock.

“It’s a big space, 220 spaces, and so far many, many people have tried to park in the two places,” Strobel said, adding, “Dozens of women have tried also.”

He said that this “rule” was more symbolic than a rule of law, and that women were more than welcome to take part in the parking challenge. Asked about how difficult these two spaces really were to handle, Strobel laughed and said, “Many park here every day. Myself, I also parked there many times, especially now for all the TV and media who come.

“But many also cannot par; Like my secretary. Five times she tried and no success.”

Apart from a good chuckle, Strobel said that he hoped his parking rule, which one male and one female architect behind the parking lot complex helped him come up with, would give Triberg more prominence on the global tourist map.

“Perhaps many more people would like to come and not only see our waterfalls but try our parking,” he said. “It’s a marketing idea and it works. I cannot work this week with all this publicity.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun292011

Saudi Women Arrested for Defying Driving Ban

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(RIYADH, Saudi Arabia) -- Five Saudi women who dared to break the driving ban by getting behind the wheel were arrested for a few hours and then released by the Kingdom's muttawas, or religious police, in the Red Sea coast city of Jeddah.

To gain their release, the women, along with their legal male guardians, had to sign a pledge declaring they would not drive again.

In what is being described as "dramatic" night time raids, police detained one of the women as she was driving in the city. She was reportedly surrounded by four police cars and taken into custody.

According to a conservative Saudi news website, her car was also confiscated. The other four were first accused of defying the ban and then arrested.

Galvanized by the recent revolutions in the Arab world, the organization Saudi Women for Driving, a coalition of leading Saudi women's rights activists, released a statement that read, "The Saudi police decided to wait a few weeks before cracking down in the hope that international attention on the ban on women driving would subside."

The law in the Kingdom does not actually prohibit women from driving but there are fatwas, or religious edicts, which follow Wahabism, a strict form of Islam that follows the Koran literally and has been in place for centuries. It is the muttawas who police the streets and enforce those edicts in the country.

It is the first time the muttawas cracked down on women drivers since women's rights campaigner and single mother Manal Al Sharif was arrested for driving in May this year and remained behind bars for nice days. Al Sharif is one of five organizers who set up the Facebook group "Women2Drive" page, launched a nationwide campaign calling on all women across the country to drive on June 17. Dozens of women across the country hit the streets, some documenting their audacious act and posting their videos on YouTube.

The Saudi women have been tirelessly trying to reverse these laws to enable women to drive so that they can have more freedom and no longer have to rely on their male guardians to commute.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun172011

Saudi Women Get Behind the Wheel in Protest of Driving Ban

FAYEZ NURELDINE / Getty Images(DUBAI, United Arab Emirates) -- Women in Saudi Arabia openly took a seat behind the wheel Friday in defiance of an official ban on female drivers. Participants say they want to claim the same rights as their male counterparts.

Activists have received inspiration through the "Women2Drive campaign," which was organized through Facebook and publicized on Twitter. Participants have been using the social networks to communicate with one another and to post pictures of themselves behind the wheel.

One Saudi woman, Maha Qahtani, drove in Riyadh Friday with her husband in the passenger seat. "Why no for us and yes for men," asked Qahtani. "It's my right, it's my right and I have to have it." Quhtani said police did not stop her while she drove. Authorities have, however, taken other female drivers into custody.

Such was the case with Manal Al Sharif, who posted a YouTube video of herself driving and was subsequently arrested and detained for more than a week.

The movement has sparked debate among Saudi rulers between reform and conservative values. Meanwhile, participants pledge to continue driving their cause forward until the male-only driving rule is reversed.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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