11/03/2010, 00.00
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Saudi women are forbidden to work as cashiers in supermarkets

"Women should look for a decent job, that does not make it possible for them to attract or be attracted to men," states fatwa. Dismay among the Saudi people (men and women) over the ruling, which bans women from working as cashiers because contrary to the rules on the separation of the sexes. The supermarket is considered to be a mixed environment.

Jeddah (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Saudis are shocked after the Committee on Scholarly Work the Ifta emitted a new fatwa prohibiting women from working as cashiers in the kingdom’s supermarkets. The statement was released on October 31. Unemployment among Saudi women is 28%, but there are places available in retail establishments, where they can be employed.

The fatwa reads: "It is not permitted for a Muslim woman to work in a mixed environment with men who are not related to them, and women should look for jobs that do not lead to them interacting with men which might cause attraction from both sides”. The ruling, issued by the Ifta under the Council of Scholars (the highest authority for Islamic affairs in the kingdom), came after a conservative preacher called for a boycott of supermarkets who have women cashiers on their payroll. The shops in question are: retail clothing chain Ted Tag, based in Los Angeles, Azizia Panda and Marhaba supermarkets.

Many people have reacted with dismay to the decision, calling it meaningless and unfair to those women who need work. Abdulrahman Fakhri, an entrepreneur of 32, says: "It is clear that the people who have issued this fatwa do not know the conditions these women work in. In addition, these women need money, otherwise they would not do this job. "

Haneen Kelani, a housewife, said: "Women will mix with men whether they remain behind the counter or in front. I always go to supermarkets with men cashiers, and am usually alone. Is this considered mixing? What harm is there if I and the male cashier changed places? ".

Nayef Abdulaziz argues that these cashiers do not work in conditions that violate Islamic rules, "Once I went to the supermarket to see how these women worked: there is a glass divider that separates them from customers. They are covered and do not socialize with anyone. I tried to go to a woman - he continues - but I was stopped and sent a male cashier, which means that employers have full control over what happens in supermarkets, and do not allow men and women to come into contact".

Marhaba and Azizia Panda supermarkets have refused to comment on the fatwa.

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