A Tweet calling for harassment to protect women’s chastity
A controversial hashtag has triggered a raging war of words on the subject of Saudi women working as cashiers in local supermarkets and major department stores. In Twitter, the hashtag — #harassfemalecashiers — was the focus of criticism of many Saudi intellectuals and concerned citizens who are interested in the integrity of Saudi society.
When the international media such as the BBC, Financial Times and the Huffington Post caught onto the story, they reported it as a single provocation of one Saudi so-called-cleric who thought it was a good way to discourage women from working, and in fact forcing them to quit, by making them feel sexually threatened and uncomfortable in the work place. Although he later denied being the initiator of the Twitter hashtag, he never condemned the hostile anti-social message it sent.
Encouraging men to behave criminally against women such as sexual harassment cannot be tolerated as an expression of opinion. The campaign is a violation of the rights of Saudi society and the people behind it must be held accountable, and their behavior denounced by all factions of society.
With more Saudi women entering the labor market each year to support the growing economy, comes the need to advance more legislations and regulations to protect these women not just from harassment in the work place, but also from such radical calls that may inadvertently encourage abuse toward women.
This fanatical campaign that is carried by some segments of society to express their rejection of this type of jobs for women, and their continuous attempt to challenge the government new labor laws, cannot be justified as “chivalrous” jealousy on behalf of Saudi women. On the contrary, it is a clear indication of their suspicions and rigid perceptions of Saudi women and of society as a whole.
If there is genuine fear among conservatives over the future of female personnel, then they should not be investing time and effort on challenging government laws regarding the right for women to work, but on actually finding ways to protect these women from harassment not only in the work place, but in fact anywhere. But it seems it is not in their interest to do so, since it would mean they would lose control over their women.
This call for the harassment of women employees by an irrelevant minority manifests their psychological problems and hunger for fame at any price. Their ill-fated quest on stopping positive change and progress in Saudi society will surly end in vain.
A tweet: “The intense campaigns against domestic violence, rape, sexual harassment, and inequity in the schools all too often depend on an image of women as weak and victimized.” — Katherine Dunn
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