Fight for your right to buy underwear privately

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Women are prohibited from doing many things in Saudi Arabia, among them driving and being alone with a man they are not related to. How do women there decide what freedoms are worth fighting for? Reem Asaad, a finance lecturer at Dar al-Hikma Women's College in Jeddah joins The Takeaway with the story of an unusual campaign she is leading to defend the right of women to buy their lingerie from other women, because currently only men can sell women's underwear. Ms. Asaad joins us now from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

"This industry is living off the pockets of these women."
— Reem Asaad of Dar al-Hikma Women's College on the lingerie industry in Saudi Arabia


Reem Asaad

Hosted by:

Jerome Vaughn

Comments [8]

Shah Nazar from Jeddah


And thanks to everyone who have assembled here. Primarily, I would like to contest the so called "Man's World" notion. second, every women in the society (Muslim or non muslim) has a right, and by right I mean the freedom to choose, a right on what they prefer and what they wont.

The most important point lost in this debate is "If women should buy undies from men or not?", well, to be frank, the contention brought in is not due to men(only) selling them, but is an effort to point at the double standards of the Muslim world. On one hand when we try to keep things hush hush in the name of Islamic dogmas, then how on the other hand we can bring humiliation to the same women by asking them to buy the most personal stuff from unrelated, unknown and uncalled for men.

The call is right, the time is apt. This is the time to rise and settle the score for once and all. And the educated men should support the women, as expected instead of opposing them.


May. 23 2010 02:24 PM

I would like to make a correction about a certain part of the introduction.
"Women are prohibited from doing many things in Saudi Arabia, among them driving and being alone with a man they are not related to"

Generally, Women are not supposed to be alone with men they are not related to. But that is not in Saudi Arabia alone, that implies to all Muslims from any race or color and regardless of gender. It's an Islamic tradition based on the idea that humans are sexual beings and to avoid adultery and unlawful intimate interactions, a man a woman who are not related are not to be alone in one place.
Despite that, Saudi Arabia does not actually forbid women from being alone with other men. There is no need, women understand they aught not to by themselves.

May. 27 2009 11:32 AM

It may not be a problem to you, but for Muslim women living according to the Muslim conservative traditions then it poses a real problem. In Islam women are expected to be modest, so buying a underwear from a man does not serve the conservative nature of a Muslim woman who needs her privacy when buying such sensitive products. You need to keep in mind that the Muslim society is not as open and casual as that of the westerns.

May. 27 2009 11:21 AM
Michael Sheehan

I find it disturbing that the issue of who can sell underwear was not more roundly criticized and exposed for what it is: theocratic brutality that treats women as chattel. Instead we endured a "feel-good" piece about "balancing tradition and the modern." Give me a break. It is long past time for us to rethink the respect we accord religion with all its sexual repression and superstition.

Feb. 26 2009 02:33 PM
carol lukowski

While in AbuDhabi last year I asked several chic young women who were shopping around one of the malls why there were men selling women's clothes. This was particularly weird in that men and women are commonly segregated socially.

They were surprised that I asked and searched for an answer...

they said that men were the traditional tailors and knew about such things...
it seemed to me that lots of women sew and since they wear the clothes that might make more sense. I also wondered about measurments, the necessary touching, but didn't go there!!!

Yet one more revelation in visiting a different culture!

Feb. 26 2009 01:24 PM

Kudos to the Takeaway staff person who read the comments and ammended the introductory text on the website (added "because currently only men...").
Just want people to know that my comment was based on the original posted text and audio of the interview!

Feb. 26 2009 07:35 AM

I GUESSED that the women's beef is that underwear salespeople in Arabia are all men. Is that it? Perhaps stating that would have detracted from the weirdness aspect that the media have taught us to expect in any story about Saudi Arabia. Who can blame Arabian women for preferring not to buy their undies from leering men? (If that's the problem, anyway...)

Feb. 26 2009 06:49 AM

Am I the only one still unsure what the problem is? I didn't hear a specific grievance, just vague generalities about rigid religious traditions vs. modern living.
It would have helped if the intro or the interviewee had explained the current process for purchasing lingerie in Saudi Arabia.

Feb. 26 2009 06:43 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.