What a bunch of fucking clowns.
Miniskirts, Headscarves Don't Mix at New Tehran Park (Update1)
By Ladane Nasseri
Nov. 12 (Bloomberg) -- A woman clad in a red T-shirt plays an Iranian drum in a Tehran park as her teenage daughter dances nearby, her hair flowing in the air.
Anywhere else in Iran they would risk being stopped by the police and possibly arrested. Here, in the first female-only park in the Islamic country's capital, a dozen women in summer garb have gathered on the grass to watch and applaud.
``We're having great fun without men,'' Setareh Sabzevari, 40, said.
Mothers' Heaven opened in May as a place where women can cast off their Islamic headscarves and dress to enjoy the sun, jog and play without offending anyone. Embraced by many visitors, the park has also sparked concern it may encourage segregation after a decade in which women gained more freedom to interact with men and participate in sports in public -- albeit with their hair and bodies fully covered.
Such initiatives are ``positive as long as women have the freedom to choose,'' said Rosa Gharachorloo, assistant professor in human and women's rights at Tehran's Azad University. ``I just would not want this to turn into a law or to become the norm. What if it extends to public libraries or cinemas?''
The mayor's office rebuffs criticism by saying Mothers' Heaven, which has on average 1,000 visitors a day, was created in response to requests from women. The city opened a second park in August and has plans for four others.
They are practical solutions that respect religious beliefs and are in line with the Islamic Republic's laws, said Mahmood Maniei, a spokesman and adviser to the mayor's office for Tehran's third district, where the park is located.
Segregation vs. Opportunity
``Would you prefer doing sports in an Islamic coat or without?'' he said. ``This is not about segregation. It's giving women equal opportunities in the city.''
Sociologist Nayereh Tavakoli said she was concerned that some activities women had already gained acceptance for could ``again be viewed as abnormal.''
``This is giving opportunities, but it's not giving equal opportunities,'' she said. ``Equal would mean that they would have similar access to any park in the city.''
Mothers' Heaven takes up 15-hectares (37 acres) of a park in northern Tehran whose tall trees and hilly terrain, supplemented by metal walls in some areas, keep the women hidden from view. A team of 15 guards patrol the gates to dissuade potential voyeurs.
The park is managed by a team of 35 women. It includes a 4- kilometer cycling track, a grass hockey field and halls with basketball and badminton courts and archery targets. Bicycles can be rented at an hourly rate of 10,000 rials, or about $1. Aerobics and yoga classes are also available.
Walking Under the Sky
Only on Fridays, when the park opens its doors to the entire family, do female visitors have to keep themselves covered.
Pantea Ebrahimian says Mothers' Heaven is a ``good move,'' especially in a city where few families have private gardens, as long as women aren't prevented from going to other parks.
``Every Iranian woman dreams of being able to walk under the sky like this,'' said the 22-year-old design graduate in a pink tank top and a miniskirt, who came for a tanning session.
In Iran, every female adult is required to cover her hair and body forms in public to avoid attracting men's attention.
Following the 1979 revolution, which replaced the monarchy with an Islamic republic, women were forced to adopt the strict dress code. They were prevented from bicycling, stretching or jogging in public so as not to be a source of distraction for men. Segregation was pushed as far as sports fields and ski slopes to limit mingling between youths of both sexes.
Social customs relaxed under presidency of Mohammad Khatami from 1997 to 2005. While the principle of the Islamic dress code remained, women started wearing colorful scarves and shorter and tighter coats. Women were allowed to interact with men in public, and they slowly brought their leisure into the open.
Women's appetite for the next sports experience has led to a 100-long wait list at Iran's first bungee-jumping venue on the Tochal Mountain, a popular leisure spot for Tehranis. For now, founder Houman Hoviatdoust is accepting only male customers.
Iranian officials who often hike in the area ``could find it distasteful to hear women scream in public,'' he said.
Because women are still encouraged to dress modestly and act chastely, they have kept a general sense of reservation in public. For Sabzevari, Mothers' Heaven is a good compromise.
``In this society, we can't dress as we want or sing in public spaces,'' she said, pouring a glass of tea from a flask and passing around a box filled with chocolate cookies. ``Here, it's like being home only it doesn't have a ceiling.''