Iran’s Female Vice President Hits Out At ‘Sanctimonious’ Female Volleyball Ban On Facebook

Shahindokht Molaverdi stands up for Iranian women who were prevented from watching a volleyball match in Tehran over the weekend

Iran’s volleyball saga continued to intensify this weekend when a group of male hardliners blocked the attendance of women spectators at a match during The Volleyball World League last Friday.

Iranian female Vice President, Shahindokht Molaverdi, swiftly launched an attack against the threats, denouncing the ‘sanctimonious’ opposers who distributed out flyers in central Tehran vilifying female volleyball fans as prostitutes and sluts.

Molaverdi wasn’t the only one. Since the match took place, women have been taking their protest to Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #LetWomenGoToStadium.

In Iran right now, volleyball isn’t just a game, it’s quickly symbolising something more than just sport. For many, it is increasingly representing the difficulties facing women to achieve equal rights in a country struggling to realign gender reform without angering the views of conservative hardliners.

Despite only 200 out of a total of 12,000 seats in Tehran’s Azadi sport complex being allocated for women, many remained hopeful that things were beginning to change under the leadership of President Hassan Rouhani’s current government. Since 1979’s Islamic Revolution, women have been banned from attending any sporting events.

This weekend’s latest leap backwards wasn’t something Molaverdi, responsible for women and family affairs, was willing to let go without a fight. On Facebook, she bravely launched a very public and blistering attack on those who claimed seat allocations weren’t approved by security officials at the stadium.

Identifying the aggressive opposers as “from those who were denounced two years ago by voters, and who had crawled into their cave of oblivion”, she went on to attack their bid to block progress.

Molaverdi continued to denounce the men involved as a ‘crowd of sanctimonious people who published one notice after another denouncing the modest and decent girls and women of this land [who] talked of confrontation used obscene and disgusting insults that only befit themselves.’

This isn’t the first time volleyball in Iran has hit the headlines in the last year. In 2014, a British-Iranian woman was sentenced to a year in prison for watching a men’s volleyball game. She was released after five months in jail.

This week’s latest derailment will make President Rouhani’s comments about the ‘deficiencies in women’s rights and in gender equality’ last year more relevant than ever.

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