Saudi shuts down lingerie shops for employing men

Eighteen stores in Riyadh closed down for failing to comply with rules on female employment
Saudi shuts down lingerie shops for employing men
Saudi women shop at a lingerie store in the Saudi Red Sea port of Jeddah on Jan 2, 2012
By Claire Valdini
Thu 28 Feb 2013 11:00 AM

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Labour closed 18 lingerie shops in Riyadh for not adhering to regulations that ban stores from employing male sales assistants, Arab News reported.

“We’ll close down all shops that sell lingerie and women’s accessories if they do not fulfill Saudisation conditions,” the ministry said.  “We have taken this measure to show that we are serious about it.”

Authorities have been given the right to issue temporary closure notices if shop owners fail to comply to the regulations, the report added.

“We have taken a step by step approach in this matter. We started by educating shop owners on the need to employ women. After that we impose fines, deny computer services, issue notices for temporary closure before finally closing them down,” it said.

Saudi Arabia introduced the new regulations last year after an initial attempt to roll out the initiative in 2006 failed.

According to the law, all Saudi-based lingerie stores must now only employ females as sales assistants. The ministry also requires that shops ban men from entering and provide security guards on the door, while female workers must wear a hijab and clothes that conform to the country’s conservative standards.

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.

in 2011, King Abdullah said that women would be permitted to vote and stand in municipal elections from 2015, while in September 2012 it was announced that one fifth of 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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