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Unfitting? Women Must Buy Lingerie From Men in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has no idea how to treat a lady. It's jailed women for coed Stabucks runs. Banned the sale of Valentine's Day gifts, which might not be a terrible idea with so many unwilling valentines. And now the story of women uncomfortably buying lingerie from male sales clerks has emerged.

To be fair, the Saudi government passed a law in 2006 that allows women to work in shops that sell women's items. But the men who stand to lose jobs have little incentive to hire them. It doesn't help that Muslim clerics, who wield considerable power in the religious country, believe home is where the woman is.

Adding to the problem, the kingdom's religious police have banned fitting rooms in lingerie shops along with physical contact between unmarried men and women. Shoppers can't be properly measured and are forced to buy bras without trying them on. Most are too embarrassed to return what doesn't fit.

Now one woman hopes to unravel the status quo with the help of others. To find out how,


Reem Asaad, a college professor, is sidestepping the government and religious establishment to call on women to boycott lingerie stores staffed by men. "We the consumers are the final decision makers," said Asaad. "We decide what to buy or not to buy, and that's where it will hit the most — in the pocket."


Join The Conversation
luna08 luna08 8 years
I can't imagine having everything, down to buying a bra, made that difficult.
Grandpa Grandpa 8 years
I have a friend who worked as nurse in Saudie Arabia about 15 years ago. There is no amount of money on earth that would get her to go back there.
zeze zeze 8 years
"That religion's lack of tolerance is completely baffling to me." Maybe it is baffling because it is not true, Splork. Ignorance is not bliss.
CrissyVK CrissyVK 8 years
I lived in Saudi Arabia (as a Westerner) and often visited there for many years thereafter. What what usually happen is that you would buy all items at the store, try them on in the bathroom at the mall, which tend to have big stalls, and return items right away what didn't fit. It is true that you have men selling you bras, underwear, make-up, and pretty much everything else. You cannot blame Islam as the culprit for these practices, as many other cultures practice and do not convey it the same way as Saudi Arabia and other strict Islamic countries. It is a mix of culture and the way government is run. I hope things do change that allow tolerance for not only women, but for the society has a whole.
Lyv Lyv 8 years
Sad thing is, when you are born and raised in a society like that, the umconfortable bra-shopping has gotta be the least of your worries. They make every aspect of women's lives absolute hell.
Jessiebanana Jessiebanana 8 years
I must say that really sucks. Most American women don't buy lingerie from straight men. I can't imagine being that isolated from men and then having to buy such intimate products from them. I really do sympathize with such a day to day struggle. Having bras that fit can make a huge difference in how comfortable you are during the day and to be in a situation where you might be too embarrassed to stand up for yourself is sad. I think I can make this comment without passing judgment on the culture as a whole.
Grandpa Grandpa 8 years
CaterpillarGirl, I don't believe you really mean what you said. one half of the residents of Saudi Arabia, have no civil rights at all. They are treated as chattel.
babaloo babaloo 8 years
Exactly. Sucks for them. That religion's lack of tolerance is completely baffling to me.
genesisrocks genesisrocks 8 years
That sucks for them
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
I really dont care, its their culture and who am i as a westerner to say its wrong or right?
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