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Married Women in Iran Still Need “Permission” to Travel Abroad Under Amendment to Passport Law

Member of Parliament Parvaneh Salashouri (left) and human rights lawyer Farideh Gheirat (right).CHRI - An amendment proposed by the Iranian Parliament's Women's Block to the country's Passport Law does nothing to ease state restrictions on married women's ability to independently travel abroad, a legal expert told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

Iranian Soccer Stars Call For End To Ban On Women Spectators

Former Bayern Munich player Ali Karimi has added his voice to those calling for Iranian women to be allowed into major sports events. (file photo)RFL/RE - Two prominent Iranian footballers have called for lifting a ban on women attending major men's sports events, adding to pressure from women's rights activists long battling the prohibition.


Ali Karimi, who is widely regarded as one of the best Iranian players of all time, expressed hope on July 10 that "the conditions are set with the help of" President Hassan Rohani and the Iranian Football Federation (FFIRI) "for women to enter stadiums" as spectators.

"This is the demand of millions upon millions of female fans who'd like to watch football matches and other events up close," Karimi, a former midfielder for Iranian and European clubs who now coaches Naft Tehran, was quoted by the semiofficial ISNA news agency as saying. "This important issue is not impossible, this dream of female sports fans can be achieved through correct planning."

Weeks earlier, Iranian national team captain Masud Shojaei called on Rohani to lift the ban.

Flood Of Passion

"I think it is the dream of many Iranian women who are football fans," Shojaei, who has represented Iran at two World Cups, said in a video clip that was shared widely on social media. "I think if [the ban is lifted] we would have to build a stadium that could hold 200,000 spectators, because we see the flood of passion from our ladies."

"I hope it happens very, very soon," he added.

Both appeals seemed intended to spur Rohani into pushing the country's conservative, religiously dominated leadership into some of the mild reforms that he espoused when he was elected in 2013 and reelected again in May.

Iran's national soccer captain Masud Shojaei (file photo)

Iran's national soccer captain Masud Shojaei (file photo)

Shojaei had reportedly raised the request in a June 14 meeting with Rohani after Iran's side qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The video was reportedly recorded at the venue of the meeting with Rohani.

Rohani campaigned on pledges that included fewer social restrictions, but he has faced opposition from influential hard-liners in Iran's mostly unelected power structure.

In recent years, government officials have issued conflicting statements over whether the ban on women entering stadiums might be lifted, and only a limited number of women -- many of them foreigners -- have occasionally been allowed in as spectators at mass sports events.

Islamic Norms

Authorities claim the stadium ban is enforced to protect women and Islamic norms. They say the atmosphere is inappropriate for women because of revealing athletes' uniforms and the prevalence of crude language.

But women's rights advocates say the ban is simply one of the more blatant examples of gender discrimination in Iranian society, where women are expected to maintain a strict dress code and are discouraged from being seen in public with male nonrelatives, and women's testimony carries less weight than a man's.

Women have occasionally defied the ban and entered stadiums, sometimes dressed as men.

In June 2014, several women were detained when they tried to go to an international volleyball event at Tehran's Azadi stadium.

Prominent Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi documented the debate in his award-winning movie Offside, about female football fans who are detained after attempting to enter a stadium to watch a World Cup qualifying match. The movie was filmed in Iran but banned domestically.

Some of Rohani's supporters have publicly called for the lifting of the ban.

"Entering stadiums is an Iranian woman's right," said a hand-written sign at a May campaign event in Tehran.

Golnaz Esfandiari

Golnaz Esfandiari is a senior correspondent with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. She can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Persistent Iranian Women's Movement Chipping Away at State Ban on Females in Sports Stadiums

CHRI - The peaceful battle by women's rights activists geared towards ending the ban on female spectators in Iranian sports stadiums is inching forward despite ongoing opposition by religious conservatives.

Female Prisoners of Evin Prison Deprived of Proper Medical Treatment

Female Prisoners of Evin Prison Deprived of Proper Medical TreatmentHRANA News Agency – while sending political prisoners to clinics is always done with great difficulty by the judicial-security institutions, however, female prisoners, in particular women’s ward of Evin prison inmates suffer from severe deprivation, due to shortage of female security forces.

Some Female Sports Fans Allowed to Watch Men’s Volleyball Match in Tehran, But Ban Persists

CHRI - After being denied entry into Iran's sports stadiums since 2012, hundreds of women were allowed inside Tehran's 12,000-seat Azadi Arena on June 9, 2017 to watch a FIVB World Volleyball League match between Iran and Belgium.

Book Club Members in Iran Sentenced to Prison Time for Allegedly "Promoting Feminism"

CHRI - Eight political and civil rights activists have received sentences of up to four years in prison for allegedly reading and spreading feminist literature in Iran-two years after the charges were laid and during a mass trial that limited their defenses to three written sentences.

Iranian Women’s Rights Activists Use Elections as “Opportunities” to Put Forth Demands

CHRI - A member of the Women's Citizenship Center, a non-governmental organization in Tehran, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) that women's rights activists are increasingly using their leverage as an important voting block to put forth their demands during elections.

Iranian Authorities Block Attempts by Gold Medalist’s Husband to Stop Her From Competing Abroad

CHRI - For the second time, Iranian authorities have allowed two-time Iranian Paralympic gold medalist Zahra Nemati to travel abroad to compete despite her estranged husband's attempts to force her to stay home.


According to Article 18 of Iran's Passport Law, a married woman needs her husband's permission to travel abroad.

"You cannot do something for selfish reasons to endanger the interests of the nation," said Nemati in an interview with the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on May 8, 2017. "When I travel to other countries, I am representing the disabled women of my country and I bring home medals."

"My husband's wish certainly won't affect me because I don't travel for personal reasons," she added. "It's for a goal higher than a couple's marital issues."

On May 8, 2017, Nemati's husband Roham Shahabipour told the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) that he had asked the Passport Office not to issue an exit visa to Nemati after she asked for a divorce.

"After the Paralympic Olympics in Rio, Zahra left the house for some reason and has refused to come back home despite many appeals," said Shahabipour. "She has even asked for a divorce, so I banned her from traveling so she won't be able to compete in any tournaments abroad."

Nemati, who won the gold medal in women's archery at the London (2012) and Rio (2016) Paralympics, told CHRI that her husband had also attempted to force her to stay home before the Rio games, but the authorities allowed her to travel for competitions, including to an event in Switzerland in March 2017.

"My husband unfortunately banned me from traveling before the Rio games and I was very demoralized when I got there. I didn't say anything because I don't like to talk about my personal life," she said. "Of course, Mr. Shahabipour can say anything he wants, but I can only hope that future decisions by the authorities will not be influenced by his words."

At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Nemati became the second woman after Iran's 1979 revolution to lead the Iranian team at the Olympics' opening ceremony.

In 2015, Niloufar Ardalan, the captain of Iran's women's national futsal team, was issued a special permit by Iran's judiciary to compete in the Asian championships in Malaysia despite her husband's attempts to make her stay home.

"I'm not going abroad for fun," Ardalan tweeted in May 2015. "My goal is to bring home glory for my national flag and my country. I'm a woman and a mother and I won't forego my rights for being either one."

 

Female Former Council Member Advocates For Women Candidates in Iran’s Local Elections

CHRI - Political parties and factions in Iran should promote more women candidates in the country's local council elections to improve gender equality, Sedigheh Vasmaghi, a former Tehran city council member, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

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