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Saudi women to replace men in lingerie sales jobs


Summary of story from Arab News, January 3, 2012

Over 28,000 Saudi women have come forward to take up jobs at shops selling lingerie and women’s accessories throughout the kingdom, according to a senior official at the Ministry of Labour.

Fahd Al-Tukhaifi, assistant undersecretary for development at the ministry, said that the women would replace salesmen at 7,353 lingerie and ladies’ makeup shops across the kingdom.

The deadline to replace men with women in these shops comes into force on January 4.

Al-Tukhaifi has emphasised the economic and social advantages of hiring women.

“This will create an appropriate environment for women to work. On the economic front, it will create more job opportunities for women, and thus would be a boost to the Saudization drive in addition to accelerating the nation’s economic progress”, adding that this would also help prevent the outflow of Saudi capital from the kingdom.

“Here, the employer and the employees, as well as the companies engaged in providing employment and giving job training are all Saudis. Therefore, there is no question of the flight of the capital,” he told Arab News.

The royal decree applies only to Saudi women, or women with one Saudi parent so that Saudi women are not prevented from finding work in the country’s many foreign businesses.

The move to employ saleswomen in lingerie shops will presumably also protect the modesty of the women shopping in them.

However, the kingdom’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh has expressed concern that the new measures might not comply with Shariah law, saying that employing women at shops where they have to interact with men is a crime and against the Shariah.

Al-Asheikh, who is also head of the Senior Scholars’ Council, made the remarks in his recent Friday sermon that was focused on the topic of “keys of virtue and evil” at the mosque in Al-Hakam Palace area of Riyadh.

The grand mufti warned that hiring women at shops selling ladies’ items and making them interact with men at sales and cash counters without any ‘shyness and timidity’ could cause social problems, and advised that the owners of these shops should be prepared to share the responsibity for mitigating them.

WVoN comment: But presumably buying lingerie from male assistants does not?

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