Saudi women boycott lingerie shops and want salesmen out
In Saudi Arabia, most lingerie shops are staffed by men, but now a group of Saudi Arabian women, led by economics professor Reem Asaad, has called for a two week boycott of Saudi lingerie shops and for salesmen to be replaced by saleswomen.
Interaction between unrelated men and women in Saudi Arabia is virtually prohibited by the muttawa or The Committee to Promote Virtue and Prevent Vice, the equivalent of a religious morality police. However the muttawa has not applied the same zealous morality enforcement standards to women interacting with male salesmen in lingerie shops as it does in other interactions between unrelated men and women.
This isn't the first time Asaad has challenged Saudi Arabia's male-dominated lingerie industry. For the last two years, she has shined light on the issue by steadily calling on the Saudi authorities to allow female staff to work at stores that cater to men and women clients.
The muttawa will consent to allowing women to work as store clerks but only if they work in shops that are located in women-only malls. The Saudi Labor Ministry has also indicated that it would require women to work in lingerie shops however that hasn't occurred.
Campaigners in Saudi Arabia have urged women there to begin a two-week boycott of lingerie shops with male staff.
They say it is a contradiction that in such a conservative, Islamic country, women have to give their underwear sizes to men they do not know.
Islamic scholars have given their backing to the campaign.
"I am calling for salesmen to be replaced with saleswomen", Ms Asaad was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.
"I just hope that many respond and boycott," she said.
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