Mideast Saudi Women Driving

In Saudi Arabia, where only men can earn a driver's license, a conservative cleric is drawing criticism for saying that women risk damaging their ovaries and bearing children with clinical problems if they drive, The Guardian reports.

The cleric, Sheikh Saleh bin Saad al-Lohaidan, made the comments in an interview following a recent campaign by women opposing the ban on female drivers. Lohaidan reportedly says women involved with the campaign, whose website was blocked in the kingdom, should put "reason ahead of their hearts, emotions and passions" – and not drive.

The opposition campaign called for female drivers to defy the ban and drive cars in a protest on October 26. According to the report, the ban on women drivers isn't actually a law, but only men are allowed to obtain driver's licenses. The country was preparing to lift the ban five years ago, but that plan didn't pan out.

Lohaidan explains the reasoning behind the ban as such: "If a woman drives a car, not out of pure necessity, that could have negative physiological impacts as functional and physiological medical studies show that it automatically affects the ovaries and pushes the pelvis upward," The Guardian reports. No specific medical studies were cited for explanation.