21 Jul 2013

Ban on solo female shoppers during Ramadan

9:00 am on 21 July 2013

Clerics in northwest Pakistan have issued a temporary ban on women shopping unless accompanied by a male relative.

The decreee is designed to keep men from being distracted during the month of Ramadan.

Police support the ban, which was announced over mosque loudspeakers on Friday in the Karak district in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Unaccompanied women will be arrested and shopkeepers may be punished for selling items to women on their own.

"Those who will visit markets without male relatives will be handed over to police,'' Maulana Mirzaqeem, a clerk, was quoted as telling AFP news agency.

"They spread vulgarity and spoil men's fasting in Ramadan."

Vast parts of rural Pakistan are deeply conservative. Most women in the north-west cover their heads and bodies.

The ban was proposed by a faction of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party. The BBC reports it is not clear whether the ban will be lifted when Ramadan ends.