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05/29/2013

Protect women's chastity by sexually harassing them: author

A Saudi self-help author has urged his 97,000 followers on Twitter to sexually molest female cashiers to discourage them from working outside the home.

Abdullah al Dawood, who wrote ‘The Joy of Talking’ said his motive was to protect women’s chastity because they would be coming into contact with men, a Gulf News report said.

The hashtag #harass_female cashiers attracted plenty of ire from men and women. 

Dawood justified his reasoning by using a story from the early days of Islamic history in which a warrior who did not want his wife to leave the home to pray, hid on a dark street and molested her when she went outside. She ran back in, and vowed that she would not do so again because the world was corrupt, Gulf News said. 

Saudi Arabia’s conservative religious establishment is powerful but the government is not likely to approve of Dawood's call. To help the economy, in recent years the authorities have been trying to encourage Saudi nationals to do jobs considered menial which are typically filled by cheap labour from South Asia, such as working at check out counters. 

A lot of Saudi women do work outside the home but they tend to be in middle class professional jobs such as law, medicine and academia. And these are in all-female environments. The government is very slowly trying to introduce mixed gender work places but Saudis are divided. 

This amusing cartoon is circulating on Twitter as a response to Dawood: Saudiworking

Hamida Ghafour is a foreign affairs reporter at he Star. She has lived and worked in the Middle East and Asia for more than 10 years and is the author of a book on Afghanistan. Follow her on Twitter @HamidaGhafour

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