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PA daily article: Should women be allowed to drive taxis?

Headline: "Women driving taxis – agreement and opposition"
     "Director General of the Licensing Authority, Yasser Al-Khatib, emphasized that the culture, customs and tradition of Palestinian society do not accept the idea of a woman working as a taxi driver, and that a woman is unable to work in this difficult field, since it involves work at night and late hours, passing from one district to another at irregular times, and extensive contact with all sectors of society.
Al-Khatib told Al-Hayat Al-Jadida that women's employment in public transportation is not legally forbidden, and that they have the right to engage in it whenever they wish to. He noted that there are 6 women in all the districts of the West Bank who work with heavy vehicles, moving commodities from place to place during the day and at set times. Al-Khatib noted that one of these women, from the Hebron district, started driving a truck in order to help her husband at work… He said, 'If we were to compare this work [driving a truck] to driving a cab, we would find that [the former] is easier.' He added, 'If a woman drives a taxi, she will encounter flirtation, and she may be forced to deal with criminals (thieves, alcoholics, and drug addicts).' This is in addition to her inability to deal with problems with the car, especially at night, and the fact that she is not well acquainted with inner-city roads and highways, and cannot leave household chores for 12 hours.…
Mufti of the Rafah district and member of the Supreme Fatwa Council in Palestine, Sheikh Hassan Jaber, stated that in Islamic law it is permissible for a woman to drive a private vehicle for her own needs but without breaking Islamic law – i.e., by maintaining modest speech, appearance, and Shari’ah clothing, because [that way] she protects herself.'…
Sheikh Jaber rejected the idea of a woman working as a taxi driver because sometimes things happen to men which are forbidden according to religious law, so how could a woman look after herself if she encounters the problems that happen to men? He noted that she might become tempted without knowing it.
Director of the department for women's affairs in the Hebron district, Safaa Abu Sneina, said that it is society's culture and its customs that have enforced upon women the prohibition of driving public transport vehicles, rather than Islamic law, because the religion takes a lenient view, not a strict view. She noted that a group of girls wanted to create a taxi company for women only… but one of the religious streams had prevented this and had appealed to the families of the girls, proving that their activity is opposed to Islam. … Educational counselor Khoula Sarhan stated that women are capable [of being taxi drivers] and have better concentration than men do, as proven scientifically, but the common stereotype in our society and culture, and the adherence to norms, customs and tradition, limit the woman's role and obligate her with regard to certain roles. She noted that the idea of female taxi drivers is not wrong, but women need training before working in this field."
[The article goes on to quote opinions of six random men, for and against. Some are more liberal, some less so. One says that there's no problem with a woman working as a taxi driver because she's equal to a man. Another is vehemently opposed, and says that a woman may not leave her house at night, and even in the day her role must be to take care of household matters and the children.
The justifications for and against are more or less as above: it's dangerous for women to work in this field, they can't deal with the situations that men are forced to deal with – like driving long distances and technical problems with the car. Those in favor note that women would be able to drive only other women, or the elderly, so as to avoid harassment.]
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