LIBERATION BEHIND THE VEIL ; Iran: No Stopping the Tide of Change

By Pommert, Kristine | The Independent (London, England), June 3, 2001 | Go to article overview
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LIBERATION BEHIND THE VEIL ; Iran: No Stopping the Tide of Change


Pommert, Kristine, The Independent (London, England)


"THE HIJAB is not an issue for us!" insists Venus, a teacher in her early 40s with her hair dyed a deep shade of titian under her navy headscarf. "The divorce laws, custody regulations - it's in these areas that the system is stacked against women in Iran. But the hijab? We don't see it as a symbol of oppression."

It is true that Venus and her colleagues and students seem far from oppressed - they are confident and upbeat, and untroubled that there are no women left in the presidential race. After all, Iran has a female vice-president, Massoumeh Ebtekar, and women are well represented in the professions - from journalism and accountancy to science and the arts.

As for the hijab: most of us in the West tend to picture it as the traditional black chador - that symbol of everything that seemed alien and sinister about the Islamic Revolution. In Tehran's main shopping boulevard, Valiasr Street, the picture couldn't be more different - many women wear brightly coloured headscarves with inches of hair showing; trousers are getting shorter to display more ankle.

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