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Saudi Arabia

Food for thought: Shouldn’t restaurants let women sans mahrams in?

A prominent human rights organization has urged restaurant owners to remove signs barring women entry without legal guardians or mahrams.
“Such signs are illegal and only express personal viewpoints,” said Khaled Al-Fakheri, secretary-general and spokesman at the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR).
The statement comes in the wake of several photos circulating online showing such placards on restaurant doors across the Kingdom.
The manager of one restaurant defended the move, saying that only one of his branches has the sign up.
“The only motive for putting up such an announcement is to protect women from harassment,” he said.
“We only want to avoid trouble, but will remove the announcement if trouble disappears.”
Several Saudis have blasted the new trend, saying it is a violation of women’s rights and a clear form of gender discrimination. “This is illegal and irrational,” one blogger said.
“Such announcements were widespread at restaurants in the old days, but soon disappeared.”
He added: “The reemergence of such trends is a step back for our nation and will only make society members resent complicated and unnecessary norms.”

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