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Female retail workers in Saudi Arabia to be separated from male colleagues by a wall

Authorities dictate Saudi Arabia shops must construct a wall over 5 feet tall to separate male and female workers.

Saudi woman veiled retail Enlarge
Female Saudi Arabian retail employees must be separated from men by a barrier, decreed government authorities. (HASSAN AMMAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Women may be allowed to work in certain retail stores in Saudi Arabia circa 2013, but they're still subject to unusual restrictions — as evidenced by authorities recent decision to require shop owners to construct a physical wall to separate male and female staff.

Shop owners must construct a wall over 5 feet tall (1.6 meters) between male and female workers, says the new Labor Ministry order, which was endorsed by Abdullatif al-Sheikh, head of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, according to Al Arabiya.

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Shops have 30 days to construct the walls before they will be punished for violating the new restriction, writes Arab Business.

Digital Journal writes that the order may have come about after female employees complained of being sexually harassed in the workplace.

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Women continue to make up a tiny portion of the Saudi Arabian workforce: about 35 percent of women are jobless, as compared to 6.1 percent of men, according to a recent employment report published by Zawya.com.

The order comes not long after King Abdullah controversially decreed that women must make up 20 percent of Saudi Arabia's Shura Council, for the first time ever.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/saudi-arabia/130129/female-retail-workers-saudi-arabia-be-separate