Jeddah: Arab News
Wednesday 11 July 2012
Last Update 11 July 2012 6:33 pm
The Ministry of Labor will launch intensive inspections to achieve total feminization of lingerie shops across the Kingdom on Saturday, an official of the ministry said.
The ministry decided to beef up the inspections because the campaigns to hire Saudi women workers did not meet the target, the official, who did not want his name published, said.
“The ministry has instructed all its 37 provincial branches and other offices to make sure that three women should be working in a shift in shops where lingerie, cosmetics and other women’s accessories are sold,” he said.
“The inspectors, which also have women members, will punish any violator of the feminization order,” he said. However, he pointed out that the obstacles that stood in the way of employing women in shops included women’s lack of training, transportation issues and poor salary, Al-Madinah daily reported on Tuesday.
Men were banned from working in lingerie shops following a royal decree issued by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah. Women in general welcomed the ban, because it ended the embarrassment suffered by women at such shops besides generating thousands of job opportunities to Saudi women.
The special regulations for women-only shops stipulate that the inside of shops is not visible from outside, and that men are not allowed to enter them. If the shop is meant for families, the view from outside should not be blocked.
Men and women workers should not work in a shop except in those that have separate divisions. In these shops, there should be at least three women working the same shifts, the Labor Ministry’s regulations specified.
If the shop is standing alone or part of a commercial complex without any special security measures, there should be a security guard or electronic security system in place in the shop, according to the regulations.
The ministry’s deadline for shops to start employing women ended a year ago.
The legislation to replace foreigners with Saudi women, which came into effect on Jan. 4, is expected to have created about 150,000 job opportunities for Saudi women.
The ministry warned violating shop owners that they would be subject to various punitive measures including fines, a ban on recruiting foreign manpower and even closure.
It asked all women workers to cover up properly when working in the shops.
In 2008, a statistical study of the Ministry of Civil Service put the number of Saudi women working in the government sector at 275,000, while there were 311,000 women employees in the private sector.
The study also found that the amount of Saudi women workers was as low as 31 percent of the total number of 900,000 government employees in the Kingdom, while women constituted 49.1 percent of the Saudi population.
While the unemployment rate in the Kingdom stood at 10.5 percent, men’s unemployment was estimated at 6.9 percent and women’s at 28.4 percent.
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