In order to keep the ‘proper’ separation between men and women in the workplace, lest all sorts of sexy hell break loose, Saudi Arabia’s Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice helpfully suggests — i.e., makes a rule — the building of walls between men’s and women’s workstations. A writer for the Arabic daily Okaz asks however the proper height of the wall was determined, and what’s to be done if a woman is taller than the rather short 160cm suggested?
Inane as the rule is, its error is that it’s looking to the wrong kind of wall. The wall that needs to be built is one inside the heads of Saudi men, a mental wall that says, “That woman over there, though unrelated to me, is still off limits to my prurient interests.” Admittedly, this will require a lot more walls to be built, but economies can be found by teaching the method of such wall-building in elementary school and in the home. What’s better is that a) it costs nothing to build it and b) it works for all sizes of women and men.
What if a female employee is taller than the wall?
Hamoud Abu Talib | Okaz newspaper
Why is the segregation wall that hides women working in lingerie shops required to be 160 cm (roughly 5.2 feet) high? This was the first question that came to mind after I read about this bizarre separation wall rule.
On what basis was this figure determined? I would like to see the scientific study according to which we have come to know the average height of peeping toms!
The chairman of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (Hai’a) and the minister of labor agreed to place segregation barriers in the Kingdom’s lingerie shops during a recent meeting. On one hand, I am happy that the Hai’a and the ministry have agreed that women can work even if it means they have to be surrounded by these 160-cm separation walls. On the other hand, however, I cannot help but express astonishment at the agreement for which there is no justification whatsoever.