Saudi Arabia: Anger at 'no single women' signs

Restaurant sign barring single women Image copyright Al Hayat
Image caption A human rights group says signs banning single women are widespread

Restaurants in Saudi Arabia have been asked to remove signs which forbid entry to single women, it appears.

The request comes from the kingdom's National Society For Human Rights, which says the signs on the doors of eateries are "illegal", the Arabic-language Al-Hayat newspaper reports. A restaurant owner says he put up the signs because of "numerous incidents" of flirting. "We'll only remove these signs when we make sure such incidents never happen again on our premises," he told the paper.

NSHR spokesman Khalid Al-Fakhri tells the Saudi Gazette that restaurants have no legal right to exclude single women from their premises, or insist that they are in the company of a guardian. "These signs are against the law and reflect the personal opinions of the restaurant owners," he says, urging establishments to devise alternative arrangements if they think that customers are behaving inappropriately. The paper quotes one woman as saying, "If they're going to ban us from entering restaurants, where are we supposed to go?" - pointing out that restaurants are some of the few establishments where Saudi women can go unaccompanied.

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