Iran partially opens stadium doors to women audience

2015-06-09 06:58:11 | Al Muslim News
Iran partially opens stadium doors to women audience
Vice President for Women and Family Affairs, Shahindokht Molaverdi

 

A senior Iranian official says a limited number of women will be allowed to attend Volleyball World League event in Tehran later this month as it lifts a ban on Iranian women attending male sporting events, part of a government move to allow women and families to attend male sporting events.

Iranian women generally have been banned from games since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, though foreign women can attend matches of their national teams, Hurriyat News reported.

Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Shahindokht Molaverdi, part of the Cabinet of moderate President Hassan Rouhani, said the government hopes to avoid a showdown with hardliners over the issue. 

The ban came to worldwide attention last year over the detention of a British-Iranian woman trying to attend a men's match. While Iran's judiciary has said her case was linked to her work with the opposition, the FIVB, which oversees world volleyball, called for her release.

Molaverdi, a reformist politician and women’s rights activist, said women will be allowed into stadiums to watch men’s matches in specific sports such as volleyball, basketball, handball and tennis. However, she said women still won’t be allowed into football, swimming and wrestling matches.

“I guess a limited number of women, mainly families of national team players, will watch the (coming) volleyball games. If it practically happens a few times, the concerns will be completely removed and it will be proven that allowing women to watch men’s sports matches is not problematic,” she told the AP. “Necessary measures need to be taken in order not to spread concern. This is an issue that can be easily managed so that it would not turn into a predicament.”

While Iran’s judiciary has said her case was linked to her work with the opposition, the FIVB, which oversees world volleyball games, called for her release, saying it showed “the need to give men and women worldwide equal rights to participate in sport.” At the same time, the FIVB decided Iran wouldn’t host the Boys’ Under-19 World Championship this year, saying the decision was based solely on technical grounds.

“Women’s presence and getting families into stadiums will create a sense of formality that can definitely moderate the atmosphere of stadiums and give it a moral spirit,” Molaverdi said.

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