Women walking in a Tehran park, with attire satisfying minimum hijab rules. Undated

Women walking in a Tehran park, with attire satisfying minimum hijab rules.

Parks In Tehran Will Be Partially Segregated For Men, Women

4/11/2022

A Tehran City Council member has confirmed that areas in 350 parks and playgrounds in Tehran will be fenced to keep women and their children out of men's sight.

Confirming the plans, Mohammad Aghamiri told Didehban-e Iran website on Saturday that there are "men who are not family members and young [unmarried] men" in parks so it is to women's own benefit to keep men out from where they play with their children. He also claimed that creation of a separate area for women and their children was based on "popular demand".

Those who advocate allocation of a different section of parks and other public areas such as playgrounds to women claim that this will help guard women's privacy and separation from men according to Islamic values.

Limitations for women have always existed since the 1979 Islamic Revolution under the pretext of protecting them, Niki Mahjoub, journalist, told Iran International TV, adding that segregation laws have steadily increased, particularly in the past few years.

Some fear that religious hardliners might be aiming at more segregation in parks and other public places.

Families enjoying a day out in a Tehran natural park.

Addressing a Tehran City Council meeting on Sunday, Aghamiri claimed that Didehban-e Iran had misrepresented his remarks and that he had not meant complete segregation of parks but meant only allocation of a special place for women and their children to play together.

He insisted that the plan ensures "women's safety" and giving them peace of mind that their children would not be "abducted". He went on to claim that women are far less likely to abduct children than men.

"There are special parks for children in all countries but now that this is being done in Tehran those who are hostile [to Islamic values] are painting a dark picture and saying parks are going to be segregated," he said.

Aghamiri added that mother and child parks will help make families happier and healthier. "Men are at work during the day. Mothers who have more free time can go to these parks and spend time with their children," he said.

Young men having lunch in a Tehran city park.

Tehran has over 2,500 large and small parks and neighborhood playgrounds including nine parks that are for women only. Aghamiri said on Sunday that the number of all-female parks is going to increase to forty soon.

The first of all-female parks opened in Tehran was inaugurated by the city's conservative mayor, Mohammad Ghalibaf, in 2008. Some women at the time welcomed the idea because in this park they did not have to wear the compulsory hijab and could dress or exercise as they wished, as even gardeners were female. Others, however, said they feared this was a prelude to greater gender segregation in the city.

Since 2008 all-female parks have also been established in other cities and towns.

On Saturday a video was posted on social media showing tall concrete walls built around a park by the municipality in Bojnord in northern Iran. The mayor of Bojonord has said that the walls have been built not to segregate men and women, but to provide "a safe space" for women.

The Islamic Republic enforces complete segregation of men and women in many public spaces including schools, public transportation, gyms, swimming pools, and beaches. Women are allowed at some athletic events such as volleyball games, in a separate part of the stadium, but unofficially banned from others such as football stadiums, men's wrestling competitions and boxing matches.

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