President of the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, Abdul Latif Al-Asheikh has approved the right for women-only staff in lingerie shops.
He has also instructed that all Haia branch offices across Saudi make sure that the privacy of the female staff is not violated. The branches will also have to submit periodic reports on their efforts to implement the new regulations.
Under the new agreement, only Saudi women can work in a lingerie shop. Men, including those who work in other retail sections of a commercial complex, may not enter the shop.
In these commercial retail centres, the women’s section should be independent from the men’s sections with a fixed partition of 160 cm high so that no one inside the shop can be seen from outside. Women are also not permitted to enter the warehouse or offices of the shop where male workers visit or are present, the Haia circular said.
Since 2011, the Labour Ministry has been replacing male sales staff with women in lingerie stores, in a bid to provide work for women and preventing the embarrassment associated with veiled women buying lingerie from men.
However, the chairperson of the National Women’s Committee at the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce, Huda Al-Jeraisy, said the government’s order to appoint only women in lingerie shops, which was issued several months ago, was not clear on its method of implementation.
The fact that the Ministry of Labor did not seek advice on lingerie shops in the private sector was one reason the implementation of the order was delayed. Absence of support services such as transport and child care facilities was another reason.