‘Manned’ lingerie stores create furor

A Facebook campaign has been launched calling for saleswomen to be employed in Saudi Arabia’s lingerie stores, as reported in Arab News.

The campaign, which was started earlier this year by Fatima Qaroob is titled ‘Enough Embarrassment’ and calls on Saudi men and women to stand together and object to male staff at lingerie stores.

Qaroob told Arab News: “I never had the opportunity to buy my own lingerie in the Kingdom until recently. And when I did, I was surprised to see a man helping customers. While I stood there wondering, the salesman asked me intimate questions about my size and preferred colors. I felt shy and embarrassed when I shouldn’t have been because it was a normal thing and the guy was only doing his job.

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“When I reached the cashier, he started holding my items individually and raising them up. I felt uncomfortable and that’s when I thought of starting a campaign to change this.”

In 2005, Saudi Arabia’s Labour Ministry reportedly requested that lingerie shops replace salesmen with saleswomen, giving them a two-year deadline for the change to take place.

Five years on, the majority lingerie shops still employ men and over 6,500 people have to date supported the ‘Enough Embarrassment’ campaign.

Saudi real estate agent Mostafa Hammad told the paper: “I would never let my wife go and buy lingerie without me going with her because I’ve heard salesmen always ask private questions and give their opinion when they should only work as cashiers and remain silent.”

He added: “I’m surprised how the authorities are standing against women working as cashiers, but they are okay with women buying lingerie from men. It is hypocritical.”

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