Women Made to Sit With Water Tanker Drivers
Somayya Jabarti, Arab News
JEDDAH, 1 October 2006 â€” In their efforts to end the water crisis, authorities at the Aziziya Water Distribution Center yesterday triggered another problem.
Women â€” young and old, shrouded in black, most with their faces totally covered â€” climbed up to seat themselves into the cabs of water tanker trucks alongside the drivers.
â€œIt is either that or the driver will run off with your water,â€ said a security officer to a twenty-something Saudi woman, who called herself Muna, when she drew back from joining a water tanker driver in the passenger seat. She said her brothers were angry enough because they had already bent the rules in allowing her to come to the Water Distribution Center in a taxicab. With her father dead, Munaâ€™s brothers, some studying and others employed, had full legal guardianship over her, but none had the time to either fetch water or even give her a ride to Aziziya.
The water shortage in Jeddah could not have come at a worse time: right during Ramadan, when people can’t drink during the day and rely most on their home supplies from sunset to sunrise.
The process for getting water tanker trucks to deliver water to homes is an awkward one, subject to abuse (as this article notes), but is also causing a certain amount of chaos in Saudi society as women take on more responsibilities. In doing so, however, they are forced into culturally (or religiously, if that’s how you interpret it) difficult situations in which they must be alone with unrelated men. If nothing else, this ought to get the religious authorities putting pressure on the government to solve the problem.