The Iranian government is partially lifting a 36-year ban on native women attending some sporting events in the Islamic nation, though some barriers will still remain.
Shahindokht Molaverdi, Iran’s vice president for women and family affairs, told the Associated Press that the government will permit a limited number of Iranian women to attend matches of the Volleyball World League in Tehran later this month.
Molaverdi said women will be permitted to watch games in such sports as volleyball, basketball, tennis and handball. The ban on women attending sporting events, which came into effect when the nation’s Islamic Revolution came to power in 1979, still applies to soccer, swimming and wrestling matches. Senior Islamic clerics have opposed women attending sporting events because of the apparel of some of the athletes as well as the atmosphere in arenas and stadiums.
The change has not been announced, and Molaverdi, considered a reformist and women’s rights activist, said the number of women who will be allowed to watch the matches will be limited to members of families of national team members.
The issue came to light last year when an Iranian-British woman, Ghoncheh Ghavami, tried to attend a volleyball match between Iran and Italy. She was arrested and attained for a few hours before she was released, but she was arrested a few days later. Ghavami was sentenced to a year in prison but was released in November on bail pending an appeal. Foreign women are permitted to attend the games of their national teams.