Sex segregation in Iran

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Sex segregation in Iran has a long and complex history. Most areas of Iran are segregated by sex, except universities.

Reza Shah era[edit]

Reza Shah was against sex-segregation and he ordered Tehran University to enroll its first woman in 1936.[1][2] Reza Shah forcibly unveiled women and promoted their education in the model of Turkey's Atatürk.

After the Islamic Revolution[edit]

When Ruhollah Khomeini called for women to attend public demonstration and ignore the night curfew, millions of women who would otherwise not have dreamt of leaving their homes without their husbands' and fathers' permission or presence, took to the streets. Khomeini's call to rise up against Mohammad Reza Shah took away any doubt in the minds of many devoted Muslim women about the propriety of taking to the streets during the day or at night, after the Islamic revolution, however, Khomeini publicly announced his disapproval of mixing between the sexes.[3]

Khomeini favored single-sex schools in his speech at the anniversary of the birth of Fatimah bint Muhammad, saying:

As the religious leaders have influence and power in this country, they will not permit girls to study in the same school with boys, they will not permit women to teach at boys' schools. They will not permit men to teach at girls' schools, they will not allow corruption in this country.[4]

Sex segregation of public places such as beaches or swimming pools was ordered and legally introduced.

In one of severe attitudes adult boys are not permitted to be in contact with girl except under control of parents, they must intend to marry and until marriage are under control of parents.[5]


In front of bakery's in all the cities men and women must stand in separate lines for buying bread.

Urban buses[edit]

Buses are divided into two parts. Men should get on and off through the front door while the back section and back doors are for women, although the bus services in Iran are sex-segregated, women should remain fully covered while in bus. In other cities such as in Mashhad, males and females were prevented from traveling on the same bus. Traditionally it is not acceptable in Iran for a man to sit or stand beside a non-mahram woman in public places.

Tehran metro[edit]

There are special wagons which are specific to females and according to Metro laws entrance of men to these wagons is illegal and according to Islamic penal codes if a woman has objection against a man, this action is considered as women violence and it has legal punishment.[6]

Dress code[edit]

Women wearing chador in Shiraz Bazar

After the revolution, Parliament made it compulsory for all women to observe the veil and for the first time rules prescribing the Hijab as proper attire for women were written into the law.[7]

According to the law, women’s clothing should meet the following conditions:

  • Women must cover their entire body except their faces and hands (from wrist to the base of the fingers).
  • Women who choose not to wear chador, must wear a long overcoat called manteau. Manteau should be thick enough to conceal what is underneath, and should be loose fitting.
  • Women should not wear bright colored clothes or clothes that are adorned so that they may attract men's attention.[8] Although in recent years many women wear more colorful dresses in public and this seems to be tolerated by the moral police.

Correspondingly, bad hijabi (improper veiling”) was considered a cultural crime. Bad hijabi is defined by the law as: “uncovered head, showing make-up, uncovered arms and legs, thin and see-through clothes, tight clothes such as trousers without an overall over them, clothes bearing foreign words, signs or pictures, nail varnish, brightly colored clothing and improper modes of body movement or talking”,[8] the punishment of bad hijabi was 74 lashes in the 1983 Penal Law. In 1996, the Penal Law was reformed and the punishment of bad hijabi was reduced to prison (from ten days to four months) and/or a fine (from 50,000 to 500000 Rials).[9]

What follows is an excerpt from Ayatollah Khamenei's speech regarding bad-hijabi:

More than Iran's enemies need artillery, guns and so forth, they need to spread their anti-culture that leads to moral corruption. Instead of bombs, they now send miniskirts and short manteaus. If they arouse sexual desires in any given country, if they spread unrestrained mixing of men and women, and if they lead youth to behavior to which they are naturally inclined by instincts, there will no longer be any need for artillery and guns against that nation.[10]

Iranian women are not required to wear chadors, some do so, as wearing it is a claim to respectability and Islamic piety. However, women may also fulfill the government requirements for modest dress by wearing a combination of a headscarf and manteau.

Men are also concerned with veiling. Like women, men are not allowed to exhibit their legs or upper torso, although wearing ties or bow-ties is not prohibited, since they are considered signs of western influence, they are not acceptable as an official norm. Wearing earrings is prohibited for men.

Music concerts[edit]

Some concerts have been cancelled because tickets let men and women to sit near each other during performance.

Amusement parks[edit]

In different cities there are amusement parks which men are not allowed to enter.

Sport events[edit]

Men are not allowed to see women sport events.[11] Hosein Shah-hoseini, an official in spots affairs, in early years of Islamic revolution said: "We will create walls in any place women are doing sports in order to prevent men from watching even if it's a tennis yard".


Unsuccessful efforts have been made to run sex segregation in hospitals, some women-only hospitals were constructed but were not successful.


Some Women-only bank were constructed in different cities with women employees, after a period most of customers of these banks were men!

ski reserves[edit]

General Hosein Sajedi-nia said police officers will prevent skiers in Tehran ski reserves from immoral behaviors. Police task is to enhance sex segregation between male and female skiers.[12]

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]