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Posted by on Jan 4, 2012 in Arts & Entertainment, International, Law, Places, Religion, Society | 9 comments

Progress and Issues in the Saudi Kingdom with Women’s Unmentionables

We are all familiar with the separation of the sexes in Saudi Arabia and in other Islamic countries and with the many laws restricting and limiting the rights and activities of women.

While many of the Sharia laws are ostensibly to protect women from the prying eyes and other inappropriate gestures or advances by men, curiously women shopping for panties, bras, negligees, etc. had to endure the embarrassment — and perhaps other inconveniences — of having to hear sales pitches on and purchasing their most intimate garments from, you guessed it, men.

A delicate sign of progress, however, has come to the Kingdom. Coming through on a list of promises he made last summer to “improve the status of women” King Abdullah has finally implemented a decree that such intimate apparel salesmen must be replaced by saleswomen.

According to the Jerusalem Post:

The kingdom’s lingerie shops are expected to hire some 28,000 women to take over jobs from men in over 7,300 shops. The move is expected to boost employment for the country’s women, even if they still have to be driven to their place of work because the country still bans female drivers.

However, not everyone is happy with the news: “Saudi’s top cleric, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, blasted the new ruling for contradicting Islamic law, or sharia.” His problem is that the women employed in these lingerie stores will now have to “interact with men.” You see, men buying lingerie for their wives will now have to deal with saleswomen — apparently “a crime” according to the Grand Mufti.

And now there is the additional problem of an absence of dressing rooms for women in most clothing stores. The Post quotes an American expatriate in Saudi Arabia:

Since most sales positions in [Saudi Arabia] are jobs almost exclusively limited to men, even in women’s clothing and lingerie stores, there are just too many wild X-rated possibilities that could conceivably happen in these changing rooms.

Oh what a tangled web we weave when we first practice to sell lingerie.