To boycott or not to boycott Starbucks?
by AudréeML on February 8, 2016 - 1:56pm
As some of you might have heard, a Starbucks in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia temporarily banished women from entering the store. A sign put on the door said: “Please no entry for ladies only send your driver to order thank you.” This has been a shock for the majority of the world and women from all around are protesting and talking about boycotting Starbucks by solidarity.
First of all, I have to say this: I work for Starbucks. I have been working there for more than a year and honestly love working there. Starbucks is known for being a company who cares; they care for their employees, for their clients, but also for what happens around the world. I have been to many humanitarian events organized by Starbucks and until this happened in Saudi Arabia, I could say I was proud to work for Starbucks. Them refusing women to enter the coffee and asking to send men instead made my colleagues and myself question the reasons why our company would do such a thing.
But was there a justifiable reason for Starbucks to do such a thing? Actually, it was for a cultural reason. Women segregation is a well known thing all around Saudi Arabia. Women require male permission to work, travel, study, marry or even access health care. They also are banned from driving or having a bank account and have to have a male chaperone when they want to go shopping. The store did not choose to ban women; the country’s religious police did. Indeed, the Committee for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice ordered the Starbucks Coffee to ban women because a “segregation wall” in the middle of the shop had become illegal, not separating the two parts in an efficient enough way.
Starbucks is saying that they want their services to be available to anyone anywhere, but always according to the local customs. They are affirming that they are working as fast as they can to make sure the wall will be built as fast as possible so that women can start going back to order their own coffee. According to the laws in Saudi Arabia, there needs to be two different entrances; one for men and one for families and women. Women in Saudi Arabia are in majority feeling safer in a coffee with a separation wall than in the places where the men and the women are not separated.
This leaves me with a question; why do people find this so revolting, but never say anything about the everyday life of these women? Why is this worth maybe boycotting Starbucks as a woman, but the fact that women in Saudi Arabia can not go out of the house without a man chaperoning them does not make the world move a single muscle? I think it is awful that women have been banned temporarily from that Starbucks, but isn’t it more important to fight for bigger causes like the freedom of these women?
Hanks, Henry. “Women temporarily banned from a Saudi Starbucks.” CNN. Np. 7 Feb. 2016. Web. 8 Feb. 2016.
Matharu, Hardeep. “Saudi Arabian women banned from Starbucks after collapse of gender segregation wall.” The Independent. Np. 4 Feb. 2016. Web. 8 Feb. 2016.
Arabnews.com. “Ban on women’s entry temporary: Starbucks.” Arab News. Np. 7 Feb. 2016. Web. 8 Feb. 2016.