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Saudi Arabia orders shops to build sex segregation walls

By Katerina Nikolas     Jan 29, 2013 in World
Allowing Saudi women into the retail workplace has resulted in an extraordinary order from Saudi authorities. Shops which employ both men and women must build walls to enforce segregation of the sexes.
Saudi's Labor Minister Adel Faqih initiated the order which demands shops must erect a "separation barrier, no shorter than 1.6 meters" Al Arabiya reported. The order was also verified by the head of Saudi Arabia's religious police, Abdullatif al-Sheikh, in charge of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.
Gender segregation, known as khalwa, is strictly enforced throughout the Kingdom and applies even in public places such as beaches. According to Journomania violation of the gender segregation rules is punishable by law.
A law allowing Saudi women to work in lingerie shops and thus reduce Saudi female unemployment, was first passed in 2011, then extended to other retail establishments. Ironically though the Saudi Gazette reports many of the positions have been taken by foreign expatriate women concealed in veils, in violation of the regulations.
One reason for this is "shop-owners prefer expatriate women because they are not that conservative compared to Saudi women. Our customs and traditions impose on us a certain behavior, which the expatriate woman does not abide by."
Some Saudi women have complained of male harassment in the workplace, something a physical wall may put an end to.
More about sex segregation walls, Abdullatif alSheikh, enforced segregation, Saudi shops, Sharia law
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