Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Saudi Arabia Lingerie Law

Saudi Arabia Lingerie Law

Saudi Arabia enforces law that allows only women to work in lingerie and cosmetics shops

Over 28,000 women have already applied for the jobs

Saudi Arabia's government announced today that it will begin enforcing a law that allows only females to work in women's lingerie and clothing stores, despite disapproval from the country's top cleric.

The 2006 law banning men from working in female apparel and cosmetic stores has never been put into effect.

This is partly because of the stance of hard-liners in the religious establishment, who oppose the whole idea of women working where men and women congregate together, like malls.

Saudi women - tired of having to deal with men when buying undergarments - have boycotted lingerie stores to pressure them to employ women.

The government's decision to enforce the law goes into effect this Thursday.

The country is home to Islam's holiest site in the city of Mecca and follows an ultra-conservative form of the religion known as Wahhabism.

The kingdom's religious police, under the control of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, enforce Saudi Arabia's strict interpretation of Islam, which prohibits unrelated men and women from mingling.

Women and men in Saudi Arabia remain highly segregated and are restricted in how they are allowed to mix in public.

The separation of men and women is not absolute.

Women in Saudi Arabia hold high-level teaching positions in universities and work as engineers, doctors, nurses and a range of other posts.

The strict application of Islamic law forced an untenable situation in which women, often accompanied by uncomfortable male relatives, have to buy their intimate apparel from men behind the counter.

Over the past several weeks, some women have already begun working in the stores.

And with the kingdom boasting 7,353 lingerie shops in total, there is clearly demand from fashion-forward Saudi women.

Attire beneath the burka is naturally a very private issue, and only for the eyes of a woman's husband.

One option is a shalwar kameez - a loose-fitting trouser dress combination. Also popular, as many high-end fashion houses will attest, is Western-style clothing.

Although the decision affects thousands of men who will lose their sales jobs, the Labour Ministry said that more than 28,000 women, many of them South Asian migrants, have already applied for the positions.

Saudi's Arabia's most senior cleric, Sheik Abdul-Aziz Al Sheikh, spoke out against the Labour Ministry's decision in a recent sermon, saying it contradicts Islamic law.

'The employment of women in stores that sell female apparel and a woman standing face to face with a man selling to him without modesty or shame can lead to wrongdoing, of which the burden of this will fall on the owners of the stores,' he said.

He also urged store owners to fear God and not compromise on taboo matters.

And here's the man to thank...

He's probably not the first person you would have on your mind as being the face of lingerie, but King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has become something of a hero to women in his home country.

It was he who issued the decree banning all men from working in lingerie shops to end 'embarrassment' suffered by women who don't want to give men their measurements.

Saudi women working in the outlets got embroiled in a dispute three years ago with the Labour Ministry and the powerful religious authority, which issued a fatwa banning such jobs.

The decree from the king was part of a push to reduce the amount of female unemployment in the conservative kingdom, currently at around 30 per cent.

Saudi women say they have been uncomfortable buying lingerie from men and would prefer female sales assistants.

Fatima Garub, founder of a Facebook campaign called 'Enough Embarrassment', backed the king's decision saying it would create about 6,000 jobs for Saudi women.

'From now, embarrassment will end,' she said. 'We thank the king who felt our problem and took the decision that we have been waiting for a long time.'

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2081345/Saudi-Arabia-enforces-law-allows-women-work-lingerie-shops.html#ixzz1iPfntWUl