Who are you calling "kharaab"?
By Saghie Zarinkalk
September 23, 1999
If you are an Iranian girl, independent, single and without a family
living in Europe or the U.S. or anywhere else outside Iran, you will relate
to this .
It is very frustrating to see Iranian men and women label single Iranian
girls abroad as "kharaab" (promiscuous, to put it mildly). What
is even more disappointing is that these kinds of comments usually come
from mothers! They expect unmarried women to at least lie about their social
These terrible attitudes exist in every aspect of our society. It is
embedded in our minds. Everything a "kharaab" girl achieves in
her life will go down the drain once she reveals her boyfriend or dresses
up to go out. She is suddenly "not marriage material".
Exactly why is this girl "kharaab"? Because she doesn't believe
in cultural or religious barriers. She defies cultural tyranny and pursues
the truth. Because she gets to do the things that are prohibited in Iran
-- things like being independent, open-minded, honest, and unpretentious.
I have lived in the U.S. almost all my life and I am very proud to see
that most Iranians here are successful. That goes for both men and women.
Some of the women came to this country, lived alone, worked hard, got a
college degree and climbed the difficult steps of corporate America. As
a result they have earned a reputation for being intelligent and conscientious.
Imagine the difficulties of an Iranian girl, with Iranian values, leaving
home and moving to the West. She works hard and perseveres, becomes a success
and brings joy to her life. And just when she begins feeling proud of herself,
she begins to hear remarks like "kharaab" coming from her own
kind; Iranians who are supposedly known for their "aatefeh" (caring,
love, and affection).
This attitude has its consequences. Here's a true example: Because of
the severe stigma attached to Iranian women living abroad, some Iranian
men travel to Iran to marry that "wholesome", "najib"
woman of their dreams, hand-picked by their mothers. But then so many of
these senseless marriages fall apart. One way or another it is that naive,
lonely and sad man who ends up paying for his narrow-minded vision.
I can go on and on about this. There is so much to say. But it all comes
back to our backward thinking, even if you are highly educated and living
in free societies. If we cannot change things in Iran, the least we can
do is make a change in our communities abroad.
I am not single. There are Iranian men abroad who are open-minded and
do not fear the achievements or their female companions or their liberal
views. They praise them. That's wonderful to see. But isn't that the way
it's supposed to be?
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