The Ministry for the Prevention of Vice and the Promotion of Virtue (or as is probably a better description, the Ministry for Licentiousness and Lasciviousness) has done it again with some more silliness in Saudi Arabia. So there it was, an exhibition from Education providers internationally, including universities from the UK, Malaysia and Canada amongst others. This being Saudi Arabia, the Canadians checked if it was OK for women to man [pun not intended] the stand. They were told yes.
Then, when the exhibition was on, the Ministry for Licentiousness and Lasciviousness came along and demanded that the women not be there. Here it was, a public place and the Ministry decided this was a threat to public morality. Read more about it here:
Of course, not all Saudis agree with this (actually, I get the impression that many think the Ministry for Licentiousness and Lasciviousness is irrelevant). Some interesting comments were published in this piece, Forced and Hypocritical Propriety.
Now here is the ridiculousness of it all. The other night in IKEA, there are separate family sections and bachelor sections, not just upstairs in the main restaurant area but also downstairs in the cafe area in front of the checkouts. These places, passed by and frequented by thousands of people daily, are not public places.
Across the road in the Megamall the top floor is full of fast food outlets and seating is open, that is, no separate bachelor and family sections because this is a public place (interestingly the area was about the same size as that in IKEA).
Come down one floor to a coffee lounge and that had separated seating again because it was a “shop” and had clear glass windows in the front.
What is even sillier is that if a woman goes to a store to buy intimate things like underwear, the Ministry for Licentiousness and Lasciviousness requires that she must speak to and be served by a man. Yes folks, that ministry refused to let Women’s underwear shops be staffed by women. Seems the ministry was worried that the women staff would need to talk to men when the men came in to buy underwear for themselves 🙂