Saudi drags feet on lingerie store hiring of women
Rasid - « Bikyamasr - Dubai » - 4 / 8 / 2011 - 3:05 am


Saudi Arabia is reportedly moving very slowly on replacing male workers with female employees at lingerie stores across the conservative Gulf kingdom.
According to workers in the country, the new regulations will create staff problems and would leave to a loss of customers.
However, women in the country have told that it is important to meet the needs of women.
“We don’t like to go in and have men tell us what kind of intimate wear we should be getting. It is demeaning and this new regulations will make our shopping experience much better,” said Sarah, a 29-year-old married woman who was recently in the United Arab Emirates on a shopping vacation with her husband.
The Saudi ministry of labor on July 11 threatened that lingerie shops that have not replaced all their male staff within 6 months could be shut down.
“We read about the order in newspapers but we did not receive any instructions (from management)… This plan can work but not at the speed they are expecting. The women have to be trained from scratch,” said Tarek, a store manager at a lingerie shop in Jeddah, in comments published by Reuters news agency.
Large department stores will be excluded from the decision based on the separation of males and females in the concerned departments. Saudi female workers will have to register with the labor office and their employers will have to register their pay role of each month.
Male workers currently are employed at lingerie and underwear shops in the conservative Gulf kingdom.
The move specifies workers’ age to be a minimum of 20-years-old and maximum 35-years-old.
The ministry also added new regulations concerning female workers at factories. The regulations specifies that a woman cannot begin work before 6 am and to not stay after 5pm.
Saudi women face many obstructions in their daily lives including most notably the fact that they are not allowed to drive by law, are only allowed to start a small number of businesses, besides the dress restriction that prohibits women from publicly appearing without the head scarf (Hijab).
Saudi women rights activists have fought in the past to change these laws but Saudi’s patriarchal society gives little weight to their voices, yet it seems that social networking websites have given Saudi women a much needed space to express their views that usually clashes with the conservative nature of Saudi society.
Saudi activists launched a campaign titled “I will drive myself” on the social networking website Facebook on June 17. The campaign brought about a debate within society. The campaign was fueled by the arrest of a Saudi woman, Manal al-Sharif, who was detained for driving her car in the Saudi city of al-Khabar. Al-Sharif was detained for 9 days and charged with inciting women to drive after she posted a video online encouraging women to take the wheel. 7,000 women had joined the online call and a larger number of men joined in opposing the campaign to stop women from driving.
Women who tried to follow on the lead of al-Sharif were also arrested.
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