In defense of the right of parking for the disabled

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Al-Jazirah newspaper

RECENTLY there was a large hue and cry when part of the parking space allocated for the disabled near the main gates of some shopping malls had been painted pink to demarcate them as special parking space for women motorists.

This uproar in defense of the disabled took place as a societal reaction, but whenever some normal person occupies the parking space reserved for the disabled it is a different scene altogether. The anger and empathy over the suffering of the disabled would suddenly disappear.

What I fear is that the angry reaction was not in defense of the right of parking for the disabled as much as it was a rejection of the idea of reserving parking space for women motorists.

This step was even criticized by women for the reason that usually in all societies no parking space is reserved for female motorists. The step was interpreted as belittling women’s capabilities and as unacceptable sexual discrimination.

Finally the Traffic Department ended the furor with its decision – “no special parking lots for women”. Parking space can be reserved for the physically challenged alone.

Despite what took place was the result of a personal opinion and an unsuccessful marketing attempt, an alternative clever idea some malls are trying to implement is to allocate parking space for senior citizens and pregnant women as well as vehicles carrying more than three people close to the gates.

Such an alternative solution can be understood, but it is essential to continue and abide by the decision to reserve 5 percent of the space in all parking lots for the disabled or at least the space for two vehicles should be allocated for them in case the size and capacity of the parking lots is less.

With the gradual increase in the number of women’s cars, similar cases will appear in parking lots at workplaces, restaurants and even in front of residences and housing complexes. This might be a simple matter at the beginning, depending on the motorists’ culture, but with time it will require a traffic policeman to be present so as to prevent unacceptable behavior by some and attempts to reshape parking spaces every time according to the whims of individuals. The policeman will have to decide who parks where.

There is no difference between cars belonging to men or women in all cultures. In my opinion, as women in our society have chosen to drive, as a legitimate right, they are capable of bearing the consequences of owning a car, exactly like men.

Nobody should think or decide on their behalf. It has become quite clear that we should grant confidence to the first batch of women drivers more than anything else. This can be achieved by implementing existing traffic regulations and nothing more.


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