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Young single men precluded to protect female shoppers at Malls .

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  • Young single men precluded to protect female shoppers at Malls .

    Young single men find shopping in the Kingdom a challenge

    By RIMA AL-MUKHTAR | ARAB NEWS
    Published: May 10, 2011 23:37 Updated: May 10, 2011 23:37
    JEDDAH: Shopping malls in Saudi Arabia preclude men who are not accompanied by their female family members from entering, in an attempt to protect female shoppers from harassment.
    Young men have expressed their resentment at this habit to Arab News. Some ask their family members to join them while shopping.
    “Whenever I want to go and buy anything for myself, I have to call my mother or one of my sisters to join,” said Adel Sahhaf, a 26-year-old marketer. “It’s sad that I can’t just walk into a shopping center and buy whatever I need. I have been facing refusal from many security guards to enter the mall, even in the early morning when no one is around,” he added.
    Security guards say that not all men are banned from entering the shopping centers. Only young men are, for they are more likely to harass women.
    “We have orders not to allow men without their female family members to the malls in order to prevent harassment,” said Jaber Abdullah, security man at one of Jeddah’s shopping centers.
    “We sometimes allow older men to go inside, for they are harmless, but we ban younger men, for there is no business for them inside the mall but to harass and peruse women,” he added.
    Young men are specifically banned to enter the malls on weekends and public holidays, when families flock to shopping malls. “You always see most people heading to the malls during weekends and holidays, and that is the peak of banning young men from entering the malls,” said Mosaad Fakhri, a 19-year-old student.
    “We don’t have anything else to do in our free time and just want to walk around the malls freely, doing some window shopping sometimes. What’s the harm in that?” he said.
    “They stereotype all young men as harassers and people who are looking for trouble, but we are not! We only want to do something in our free time,” said Fakhri.
    It is not fair to screen young men from elder ones in order to decide who enters the mall and who doesn’t, according to Um Said, a 58-year-old mother. “I just hate it when my son forces me to accompany him to the shopping center just to get one item and leave again,” she said. “On the other hand, I have to take him with me when I want to shop just to avoid harassment too,” she added.
    The issue has two sides to it: Men have to get their female family members to go shopping, and women choose or are compelled by their husband to have their male family members with them. “My husband would not let me go shopping if my seven-year-old son was not with me. I find it stupid because he is seven and cannot protect me at all,” said Khadija, a 34-year-old mother. “He believes that if I have my son with me, I’m untouchable and men will not harass me,” she added.
    According to 42-year-old Moneera Al-Ghamdi, husbands usually feel comfortable when a male member of the family accompanies his wife and daughters. “Whenever I want to leave the house, even when I want to go to my neighbor’s, my son or husband has to come with me. I have to say it is annoying sometimes, because they are not always free to come with me when I want them to,” she said.
    “When I want to go to shopping malls or a supermarket, I have to bring along one of them for my husband’s peace of mind,” she added. “He thinks that if I go shopping alone or with friends, I will bring shame to my and his family. He worries that anyone sees me or speaks to me, but if I am with a man, they will speak to him, and not to me,” said Al-Ghamdi.


    http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article393587.ece
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