A blogger in Saudi Arabia has set off a firestorm by equating waitresses to prostitutes, Gulf News reports. For some Saudis, it is a self-evident truth that if men and women are in the same physical location, and not married, then sex must be going on. This, of course, say more about the individual making such observations than actual fact, but exemplifies the hill Saudi women will have to climb in order to earn a living and make their own ways in life. Government efforts to put women into jobs isn’t going to succeed until the government finds a way to change opinions about women and their place in the world.

‘Prostitute’ tweet sparks anger
Habib Toumi Bureau Chief | Gulf News

Manama: A Saudi legal consultant has advised a group of local women working in a fast-food restaurant to sue a blogger for calling them “prostitutes.”

“Those who felt insulted by the tweet targeting their honour and dignity should go to the court and demand the application of the law dealing with IT crimes in Saudi Arabia,” Ahmad Al Muhaimid said. “The law is also intended to protect public interests, ethics and morals, as well as the national economy. The law thus criminalises assaulting or defaming people or targeting their private lives,” he said, quoted by local news site Sabq.

Action against violators includes a maximum of one year in prison and fines of up to 500,000 riyals (Dh489,711), he said.

Anger swelled in the Saudi blogosphere after a blogger posted a tweet addressed to the labour minister.

“You should stop corrupting the society. We will be your enemies on Resurrection Day. Our women are now waitresses at Hardee’s in Jeddah,” the blogger posted.

However, a woman blogger blasted him for the remark.

“Being a waitress and doing an honest is better than begging or prostitution,” she wrote.

However, the blogger insisted on his view.

“A waitress at the beginning of the work shift, and a prostitute at the end. The frequent mixing of women with men leads them to sitting together easily and to dating.”

December:03:2012 - 07:26 | Comments & Trackbacks (6) | Permalink
6 Responses to “Barriers to Saudi Women’s Working”
  1. 1
    G Jeff Said:
    December:03:2012 - 10:32 

    I think I would have been more offended by the “our women” comment. I’m also a little surprised that the Saudi Blogosphere got so bent out of shape over a comment that expresses a very prevalent attitude among conservatives in this country. I also wouldn’t necessarily think that he’s wrong about the mixing of men and women. I think men and women should mix, but in a country that doesn’t want that to happen, he has a point. It will lead to sitting together easily and dating. However, unless he’s going to make the point that working for a paycheck, to buy stuff you really don’t need and getting into the cyclical role of consumerism is a form of prostitution for all workers–unless he’s doing that then the prostitution remark was out of line.

  2. 2
    Jerry M Said:
    December:03:2012 - 13:24 

    Nasty blog posts like that could be ignored in most places but Saudi Arabia is a country in which men act on their ideas about what is immoral. Here is an article about the Riyadh book fair from 2011: http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2011/03/03/140027.html.

  3. 3
    John Burgess Said:
    December:03:2012 - 14:10 

    @G Jeff: There are a lot of Saudis for whom a paycheck means they and their families get to eat this week, or that their kids get to go to school wearing decent clothing and with textbooks. While sources vary, there’s a general consensus that up to two million Saudis live under the poverty line. Many of them are divorced women, often with kids. I wouldn’t sneer at their wanting any kind of honorable work.

  4. 4
    G Jeff Said:
    December:04:2012 - 08:40 

    John, I hadn’t even considered divorcees (a disaster in and of itself in the Kingdom). And you do have a point. It’s odd how our own experiences shape our world view. All of the Saudi Nationals that I work with, am around and teach are affluent. many of their fathers have been collecting 20-50k SAR a month from Aramco for the last 20 years and they want for nothing. That being said, I have been out with the SRCA and seen a different side of life here. Please don’t think I was sneering at honorable work though, I come from “well bred”, well educated European-American stock who have been working two jobs for the past 2 generations to make ends meet. I wholeheartedly support anybody willing to punch a clock and improve their situation.

  5. 5
    Sparky Said:
    December:05:2012 - 09:04 

    @ John bop bop bop beat it up like a drummer.

    People out there NEED TO LISTEN TO Mr. Burgess’ Wisdom CAUSE HE HAS IT RIGHT!!!


  6. 6
    Sandy Said:
    December:08:2012 - 05:15 

    Men and women already mix at fast food restaurants and have since they first opened. The only thing here that is different is which side of the counter the woman is on- and that she’s getting paid. So I call BS on the objection to mixing. They just don’t want her empowered in any way.

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