JEDDAH: MARWA HADDAD
Published — Thursday 14 February 2013
Last update 14 February 2013 12:39 am
The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (Haia) will start next week to implement an agreement, signed with the Ministry of Labor, to enforce a ban on men working at women’s lingerie and accessory shops in the Kingdom.
Haia Chairman Abdul Latif Al-Asheikh was quoted in a local newspaper as saying that Haia members will carry out inspections across the country. “We shall assume this task of inspecting lingerie shops starting next week,” he said.
He said the Haia will record all violations “at shops, shopping centers, malls and markets.” A report on all offenders will be sent to the Ministry of Labor for further action.
He said the grace period agreed with the Ministry of Labor will end in two weeks. “The Haia will follow legitimate procedures to penalize violators and refer them to the competent bodies.”
Al-Asheikh said that the Haia will choose suitably qualified staff members to carry out the inspections. The staffers will act in a rational and patient manner. They will all have relevant legal knowledge and will treat each violation on its merits, he added.
He said that the Haia is implementing Islamic law to protect the dignity of Saudi women and prevent them from being harassed. “The objective is that she works in a safe work environment, suitable to her nature. The aim is to provide women with good job opportunities in compliance with the directives of the Custodian of Two Holy Mosques and the crown prince.”
He said the country’s growing economy has meant that there are many jobs available for Saudis, particularly women.
Al-Asheikh said women all over the world work in lingerie and accessory shops for women, and it was natural for this to happen in Saudi Arabia. He said the Haia will support women citizens in this regard.
Al-Asheikh urged the media to raise awareness about women working. “We shall extend help to women so that they can progress with their small and medium enterprises, find jobs to earn a decent livelihood and participate in the economic growth of our country.”
Al-Asheikh recently signed an agreement with Labor Minister Adel Fakeih to support all job creation projects for women and to ban men from working at lingerie shops.
Under the agreement, shops were given a grace period of one month to comply. It also states that women should contact the Haia or the security authorities if they are harassed or blackmailed.
Dina Abu Addouh, employment official at Alshaya company, said the company has already recruited women employees at all its cosmetics and lingerie shops. All men who were working at the lingerie and cosmetic shops were transferred to other Alshaya outlets.
A salesman at Sephora, an outlet for beauty products and makeup, said the management assigned women employees to makeup and perfume sections. The salesmen are responsible for men’s perfumes and other products.
A saleswoman at The Body Shop said women operate the whole store. Some men employees resigned while others were promoted or given administrative jobs, she added.