A photo of two young female students selling tea in the streets of Medina has gone viral in Saudi Arabia, where female labor was taboo until recently.
Riyadh recently decided to cut down oil dividends it had dispensed to its citizens while encouraging them to study and work in skilled and unskilled positions.
In the controversial picture, the two young women and their mother are seen setting up their tea stall.
بنات جامعيات و امهم يبيعون الشاي
لأنهم لم يجدوا عمل
صورة بدون تحية لمن قال السعودي لا يعمل
ومعين ابنه براتب٢٠،٠٠٠ pic.twitter.com/G6T9tQNmPR
— Faisal Meshrf (@faisalmishref) November 23, 2016
“Work is not a shameful thing but I wouldn’t want to see our daughters sinking this low, especially as long as our natural resources are plentiful and are disseminated around the world,” Badar wrote. “May Allah punish the corrupt.”
@MR_AGMHليس عيباً العمل ولكن لا اريد ان ارى بنات بلدي فى مستوى كهذا خيرات البلد كثيره و وصلت مشارق الارض ومغاربها ولكن حسبناع كل مفسد
— بدر (@badar1122) November 23, 2016
Migrant labor, another contentious issue in Saudi Arabia, also featured in the responses. “City Hall should set up a stall for them,” Muhammad ALatran wrote. “The authorities should facilitate women’s labor and empower them. The foreigners are usurping all the good of our country.”
— محمد عطران (@alsagoormht) November 23, 2016
“It’s all because of the foreigners, who are allowed to do whatever they want.”
— ااالواافي .H…n (@2200za) November 23, 2016
Some men seized the opportunity to take a jab at feminists. “Will these women’s rights activists be required to find work for these respectable girls? Of course not. All they want it depraved freedom.”
— دلـــهوم #راح_نفلسكم (@kikoo454) November 23, 2016
Another anti-woman social media user responded: “They don’t have time for these demands, they are much bigger than their lousy brains. They’re busy demanding that custodianship be scrapped.”
— Reem_Different (@different_hfc) November 23, 2016
“Work is not shameful but in all honesty nobody would want to see his mother or sister do this job, for heavens’ sake,” Albandari tweeted.
— البندري بنت سلطان 🕊 (@AlbandreSultan) November 23, 2016