The Saudi Arabian government has announced a new law stipulating that only females may work in women’s lingerie and apparel stores, despite the country’s top cleric disagreeing.
Saudi women have boycotted female apparel and cosmetic stores for they are not only weary of men while shopping, but are applying pressure to the stores to hire female employees. The law goes into effect on Thursday.
Sheik Abdul-Aziz Al Sheikh, Saudi’s most senior cleric, disputed the decision to hire females citing that is contradicts Islamic law.
“The employment of women in stores that sell female apparel and a woman standing face to face with a man selling to him without modesty or shame can lead to wrongdoing, of which the burden of this will fall on the owners of the store,” said Al Sheikh during a recent sermon, according to The Associated Press. He continued to encourage store owners to fear God and oppose the new law.
The law announcement Monday is the result of a decision from 2006 banning men from working in stores for women.
The regulation was not immediately put into effect because of hard-liners in the country who strongly oppose the idea of women working where men and women come together, such as in malls.
The Persian Gulf nation, which hosts Islam’s holiest site in the city of Mecca, follows the extremely conservative religion called Wahhabism. Their strict interpretation of Islam forbids unrelated men and women from blending, a law enforced by the kingdom’s religious police.
The Washington Post reported that some Saudi women have already begun working in stores. The new regulation will see thousand of men lose their jobs, according to the Labor Ministry, and that over 28,000 women have already applied for the jobs.
In addition to the Labor Ministry’s announcement, Saudi Arabia also saw news last month that female citizens may vote and run for office in municipal elections starting in 2015.
Fahad al-Anzi, Shura Council member, was quoted in the state-run al-Watan newspaper as saying the decision came from Saudi King Abdullah, The Associated Press reported.