Saudi eases ban on single men in shopping malls

Last Updated: Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 23:52

Riyadh: Single men in Riyadh will be able to
visit shopping malls during peak hours after a Saudi prince
eased restrictions aimed at stopping harassment of women,
media reports said on Thursday.

Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz, Riyadh`s governor, has
decided "not to prevent any single men from visiting malls" in
the capital on evenings and weekends, when malls are most
crowded, Al-Riyadh newspaper reported.

The decision was made by a committee made up of local
officials and representatives from the feared religious
police, said the daily.

Shopping malls are a favourite leisure destination for
young men and women in the ultra-conservative kingdom, where
cinemas and theatres are banned.

Previously, single men were only allowed into shopping
centres at lunch time on weekdays, a move the authorities said
was intended to prevent women being harassed during peak
hours.

But that had "many negative consequences, including the
gathering of men outside the shopping malls and harassing
women" there, the daily reported, according to the committee.

Saudi Arabia imposes a strict segregation-of-sexes
policy.

The appointment of Sheikh Abdullatif Abdel Aziz
al-Sheikh, a moderate, to head the Saudi religious police has
raised hopes a more lenient force will ease draconian social
constraints, including the prohibition of mixing between
sexes.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 23:52

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