In Saudi Arabia until this year women weren’t allowed to work unless in upper class occupations such as doctors or in government.
After several years of protests by women about men serving them in lingerie shops King Abdullah finally announced 6 months ago that men would be banned from working in lingerie shops and also eventually in cosmetics shops.
This social revolution will apparently create 40,000 jobs for women in over 7,000 shops (apparently more lingerie is sold in Saudi Arabia than in France). The men who worked in lingerie shops previously were mainly from Pakistan.
The Grand Mufti isn’t happy saying that it is against God’s law permitting women to work and that it is a crime and prohibited by Islamic sharia.
The Ministry of Labour first floated the idea 3 years ago but the clerics issued a fatwa banning women from working. In return women called for boycotts on lingerie shops employing men.
This time, following the royal decree, the Ministry of Labour will be posting guards in the shopping malls to prevent the women workers being harassed.
At the same time many of you will have seen the horrific pictures of an female Egyptian protestor being dragged along the road as military police brutally kicked and beat her and stamped on her half naked body.
The almost surreal thing about the picture was the fact underneath her robes the unknown protestor was wearing a bright blue bra. That has now become a symbol of protest for Egyptian women and others farther afield.