Ramblings on Iran
Tehran Travel Blog› entry 15 of 18 › view all entries
Sean Connery and the great leader.
Personal Choices and Dress Code
Due to its less than benevolent (or fair) government,
Choice is a tricky thing … Where I grew up, it was traditional for unmarried Dayak women to be topless in the longhouses. With globalisation, few (if any) would do this now but nevertheless the choice is no longer there due to legal and decency considerations. Choices now appear limited to what’s considered acceptable from a Western (or Islamic) view.
The Iranian dress-code for women is falling victim to the success of the Islamic Revolution! The Revolution (and dress code) boosted the female literacy rate because rural parents were no longer apprehensive about sending their girls to schools and universities (whereas the Shah prohibited the headscarf … talk about choice or lack thereof). The highly-literate young are now pushing the boundaries in all facets of life, including dress code.
On another issue of choice … religious freedom. It is hard to know who to believe:
· I met a Zoroastrian who described South African styled discrimination about 20 years ago, eg. separate buses and drinking fountains for Zoroastrians in his town.
· I then met some Bahais (breakaway from Islam) who are discriminated in all walks of life, eg. denied public tertiary education, government employment and their traditional burial. They are the most oppressed group and dispute the severity of the discrimination against groups like Zoroastrians.
· The medical student I met explained that Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians (but not Sunni Muslims or Bahais) are represented in the Majlis or legislative assembly (3, 1 and 1 reserved seats respectively). Their representation exceeds their proportion in the population but I suspect it achieves little in practice.
· And on my first visit to
· Fortunately for the minorities, there isn’t a requirement for Muslims to adopt Muslim (Arab-derived) names. So many Iranians regardless of religion use traditional Persian (secular) names … a very pretty name “Mozhgan” means eyelashes (but in practice sometimes accompanied by very strong eyebrow …yes, one big one with two indistinguishable halves)