Women in Saudi Arabia will not be dealing with men anymore while buying undergarments, as the country will soon be enforcing a gender law that will allow only females to work in women's lingerie and clothing stores.
The 2006 law banning men from working in female apparel and cosmetic stores has never been put into effect, partly because of view of hard-liners in the religious establishment, who oppose the whole idea of women working where men and women congregate together, like malls, the Telegraph reported.
Saudi women have boycotted lingerie stores in a bid to pressurise them to employ women. The government's decision to impose the law requiring that goes into effect Thursday.
Due to strict application of Islamic law in the country, which prohibits unrelated men and women from mingling, females are often accompanied by uncomfortable male relatives when they have to buy their intimate apparel from men behind the counter.
But for the past several weeks, some women have already started working in the stores. Although the decision will affect thousands of men who will lose their sales jobs, the Labor Ministry said that over 28,000 women, many of them South Asian migrants, have already applied for the jobs.
The law will be enforced despite disapproval from country's top cleric, who say that it contradicts Islamic law.
"The employment of women in stores that sell female apparel and a woman standing face to face with a man selling to him without modesty or shame can lead to wrongdoing, of which the burden of this will fall on the owners of the stores," Saudi Arabia's most senior cleric, Sheik Abdul-Aziz Al Sheikh, said.