Iranian women drivers challenge mandatory veil

Despite fines and seizures, some women have challenged the restriction. This has led to a debate over "private" and "public" space in the car. For the deputy head of Iran’s judiciary chief only the invisible parts of the car, like the trunk, are private. Despite restrictions, women are an active part of society.

Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A growing number of women in Iran are refusing to wear a hijab (veil) whilst driving.

Even though the police regularly stop them, imposing fines or even temporarily seizing their vehicle, many female drivers continue to keep the veil over their shoulders, not their head.

This has led to a heated debate over a car’s "private" space, where women can dress more freely, and its "public" space, where the veil is mandatory.

“The invisible part of the car, such as the trunk, is a private space, but this does not apply to the visible parts of the car,” said Hadi Sadeghi, the deputy head of Iran’s judiciary chief, sparking satirical reactions online.

Hossein Ahmadiniaz, a lawyer, told the IRNA news agency that it was up to parliamentarians to define the private space and not the police.

For Yahya Kamalpour, a member of the Iranian parliament, “The space within people’s cars is a private space and the police has no right to enter that space without a judicial order.”

Still, despite restrictions, women are an increasingly active in Iranian society. Zahra Shojaee, a former vice president, and Shahindokht Molaverdi, the current vice president for women and family affairs, are the two possible female nominees for the post of education minister.

On Sunday, Iran Air announced that Farzaneh Sharafbafi would be the first-ever woman to head the national flag carrier. She is also the first Iranian woman with a PhD in aerospace.

In late June, a ministerial decree lifted gender restrictions in the oil industry.

Last but not least, two prominent Iranian footballers, Ali Karimi and Masud Shojaei, have called for lifting a ban on women attending major men's sports events.

In the past, women have occasionally defied the ban and entered stadiums, sometimes dressed as men, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports.

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