Saudi's religious police 'keen' to hire women

Force's chief says recruitment drive is likely to start soon in latest softening of laws - report
By Andy Sambidge
Fri 19 Oct 2012 09:48 AM

The head of Saudi Arabia's religious police has reportedly said there is a "pressing need" to employ more women in the force.

Speaking to the Saudi Gazette, Abdul Latif Abdul Aziz Al Sheikh said he hoped a recruitment drive would take place soon.

He told the newspaper that the women will work under the supervision of an independent women's department similar to other government agencies

Saudi's religious police enforce the kingdom's strict Islamic laws, including dress and prayer times.

It would be the latest softening of rules concerning women in the Gulf kingdom. Earlier this week it was reported that Saudi Arabia will allow females to practice law in a courtroom setting for the first time from next month.

Women will reportedly be permitted to approach the Ministry of Justice to obtain the necessary licence to practice law in the kingdom as part of broader regulatory changes to how legal professionals operate.

The change comes following the submission by the ministry of new statutes governing female involvement in the legal profession to Saudi’s Council of Ministers, which oversees the implementation of new legislation.

Saudi Arabia, the most populous country in the Gulf, enforces strict segregation of males and females throughout many aspects of day-to-day life.

Women are prohibited from driving and must obtain their husband or another male guardian’s permission to take employment or travel.

Last year, King Abullah said that women would be permitted to vote and stand in municipal elections from 2015, while in September 2012 it was announced that 30 seats in the consultative Shoura Council would be reserved for females.

According to a recent report from Oxford Strategic Consulting, around 385,000 educated Saudi women are currently unemployed.

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