Why can’t women ride motorbikes?

Published: September 27, 2011

I fail to see how a woman riding a motorcycle would be against the tenets of one’s faith.

It wasn’t long ago when I saw her. I remember how stunned people were as soon as they caught a glimpse of her. She was a fat woman, wearing a dark grey men’s kurta with sleeves half-rolled, riding a motorcycle.

Yes, you read it right. She was a middle-aged woman, riding a Honda 70 on Karachi’s roads, with a man sitting behind her. This often makes me wonder; being a girl, why am I deprived of enjoying this convenient form of personal commutation without having a million eyes ogling at me? It saves time and is amazingly economical, if nothing else.

Studying at the University of Karachi’s humungous campus, it irritates me every time I am walking and a motorbike skids past me.

Everyone remembers the massive uproar in various countries, including Pakistan, when a woman was sent to jail in Saudi Arabia for driving a vehicle. Newspapers carried dozens of blogs and other related articles on the issue. Most were sharply critical of the decision to send the woman to jail, just because she wanted to drive a car.

It troubles me. I wanted to ask all my fellow countrymen – are women in this country any different? If driving a car is a basic right of a woman, which has nothing to do with religion, then how is riding a motorbike any different?

People conveniently blame our culture for it. But if it really was for our culture, then we would not be seeing women, beautifully draped in saris, riding scooties in India, since that is the country which has a culture that is the closest to ours.

If not culture, then they will bring in religion. I don’t claim to be a religious scholar but I fail to see how a woman riding a motorcycle would be against the tenets of one’s faith.

The media serves as a stimulus for a lot of acts that people as a society end up doing, and this is exactly what is needed here as well. Television channels need to show more and more women riding motorcycles and bicycles so that ordinary women and girls understand that there is nothing wrong with this. This will also send a much-needed signal to Pakistani men.


Ema Anis

The social media editor for the web desk at The Express Tribune. She tweets as @EmaAnis (twitter.com/EmaAnis)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.