By Kayhan Life Staff
Women are banned from riding electric motorcycles in public, the head of Tehran’s traffic police Brigadier General Seyyed Kamal Hadianfar has said. The Traffic Police is a branch of the Law Enforcement Forces of the Islamic Republic (NAJA).
In comments reported by the Mehr News Agency earlier this month, General Hadianfar said: “Only men may ride electric motorcycles. There are no restrictions on men in that respect.”
“As with all other road vehicles, riding an electric motorcycle requires a valid driver license,” Hadianfar noted. “Under Article 1 and 2 of the traffic laws, all owners and operators of road vehicles must have valid driver licenses, registration numbers, and license plates.”
Riding an electric motorcycle had become a preferred mode of transportation and recreation for many Iranian women in recent years, given that they did not need a driver’s license or a license plate to own and operate one.
However, in August 2018, the Traffic Police banned dealerships from selling electric motorcycles that did not have a registered license plate. The law made it difficult for women and people younger than 18 to buy and ride electric motorcycles.
Banning women from riding an electric motorcycle is the latest impediment to Iranian women’s civil liberties.
In August 2019, the Iranian Traffic Police challenged a ruling by Branch 31 of the country’s Administrative Court, which allowed women to obtain motorcycle licenses, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported.
“No legal obstacles prevent a woman from operating standard and special vehicles [cars and trucks] and motorcycles,” the court said. “Article 20 of the Traffic Violation Law, which requires men to get their motorcycle licenses from the police, does not prohibit the traffic police from issuing motorcycle licenses to women.”
Hojatoleslam Mohammad Taghi Fazel Meybodi, a religious scholar and an instructor at the Qom Seminary, was recently criticized by fellow clerics and conservative politicians for saying that women who rode bicycles in public did not violate any religious laws.
“We should not prohibit a woman from riding a bicycle or harass her about her hijab. Those who call for reforms should instead reexamine our culture,” Mr. Fazel Meybodi was quoted by the Tehran-based Asre Iran online newspaper, as saying in June. “Superstition poses a genuine threat to religion. It is also dangerous to ban certain activities in the name of religion when, in fact, they are not prohibited by religious laws.”
Right around the same time, the caretaker and the morshed (master) of Valiye Asr Zourkhaneh (‘house of strength’), a traditional all-male gymnasium in the city of Qods (province of Tehran) were fired for allowing a few women to exercise in the central ring of the gymnasium, the Tehran-based Fararu news agency reported.
Earlier this month, Iran’s Deputy Minister of Sport and Youth Mahin Farhadizadeh said that boxing, powerlifting, and training at a zourkhaneh (house of strength) were not appropriate workouts for women.
“We cannot approve sports that change a woman’s entire body and physiology, given that in our religion, a woman is described as reyhaneh [a pleasant-smelling plant-flower]. We must consider both health and sports issues.” Ms. Farhadizadeh was quoted by the Tehran-based Aftab News online newspaper, as saying. “Zourkhaneh has traditionally been a men’s gymnasium. The special outfit worn in a zourkhaneh is designed only for men.”
This article was translated and adapted from Persian by Fardine Hamidi.