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Saudi Cleric: Driving Hurts Women's Ovaries

And their children will have problems, he claims
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 30, 2013 4:43 AM CDT
Updated Sep 30, 2013 5:44 AM CDT

(Newser) – There are some solid medical reasons behind Saudi Arabia's ban on women drivers, according to a conservative Saudi cleric who has become an international laughingstock. "If a woman drives a car, it could have a negative physiological impact," Sheikh Saleh al-Loheidan told an interviewer. "Medical studies show that it would automatically affect a woman's ovaries and that it pushes the pelvis upward." What's more, he claimed, "for women who continuously drive cars, their children are born with varying degrees of clinical problems."

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Al-Loheidan, who mysteriously failed to produce any medical studies to back up his claim, was speaking about the ban ahead of a planned protest drive on October 26, Reuters reports. Women who want to overturn the ban should put "reason ahead of their hearts, emotions, and passions," the cleric urged. His remarks attracted widespread ridicule in the kingdom and beyond. "He's making a fool of himself," a Saudi women's rights activist tells CNN. "He shouldn't touch this field at all—the medical field is not his field at all." (Read more Saudi Arabia stories.)

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