Ramallah Arab women, fed up with men-only cafes, have opened one of their own. No males allowed, except for the chef – at least for the time being.
The “women-only” movement already has established swimming pools and gyms where men are not allowed.
Eighty women set up the new café, located only a few yards from a popular men’s coffee shop in downtown Ramallah, the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority, according to Chinese news agency Xinhua.
"Ladies coffee shop: for women,” states a pink sign outside the women’s café, which includes the same backgammon and card decks as well as hookah that are popular in men’s cafés.
Women aged 21 to 35 run the coffee shop and staff it, but the chef is a male, at least until the women can train members of their own sex to replace him. For the time being, he is relegated to the kitchen while women guards at the front door keep men from trying to break the gender barrier.
Several girls and women interviewed by Xinhua said the café allows them a place where they can smoke hookah freely as well be more comfortable without the presence of men.
One young woman said, “Some men don't look at us in a good way if we smoke hookah, and thus we prefer to go to a place for women only."
One man who frequent a co-ed coffee shop said he likes the ideas of a women-only coffee shop. He told the news agency, "We feel pressured, we can't shout or curse freely.”
However, some women’s rights activists are concerned that the initiative might promote more separation between men and women, which is common in Arab society.