Patriarchy in Iran


by omeedvar

Despite removal of force hejab, approval of human right and voting right for women during the Pahlavis, patriarchy remained in Iranian society. Fathers controlled daughters. Most often, girls were not permitted to get education, and when they married at young age, the husband became the patriarch. Only small percentages of people gradually changed their habit.    

As a part of my work, I used to go to different parts of the country to investigate, and control infectious diseases. Once, in a suburban village in Isfahan, I entered a house, which only had a big room, with no electricity and running water. A young woman was sitting behind a loom, weaving a beautiful 1.5X2meter fine Isfahan rug.

While I was talking with her, I heard a frail sound that I thought is a voice of a cat. But when I looked at the voice direction, I noticed a tiny baby at the corner of the room. I told the mother to attend the baby, and I can wait or come back. She said her baby is hungry, but she has no milk in her breast. I asked about the age of the baby. She replied, six months. But the baby looked like a six weeks old baby.  

I told her she could dilute the regular milk with some water and give it to him, and make some soup with chicken, rice and vegetable for him. She said she has no money. I said, you are making a beautiful rug that is worth a lot. She said, the rug belongs to the boss. I asked how much he pays you for the rug. She said one thousand tuman. I told her,  you had better buy some wool when you get paid, and start making a rug for yourself.

She replied, “my husband gets the money, and does not give me any of it”. I asked her what does he do with the money? She replied, he goes to Isfahan, and buys something like a suit and radio for himself. I asked her how many children she has. She said, five. I said, if you do not have breast milk to feed your child, and weaving the rug does not help you and your children, do not weave the rug, and do not make more children. Just take care of the ones you already have.  

Then, I asked her if she has ever been in Isfahan. She said, no. I suggested that she talks with her husband, and asks him to take her to Isfahan, to the university hospital or city hospital to get free consultation and contraceptive devices, or surgically close her tubes. I knew these services were available free, for low-income families. I always tried to include health education, a part of my job.

Unfortunately, despite promises, the revolution has made life more difficult for women in Iran.


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Thank you very much, omeedvar, for this truthful article. I travelled to village of Khorassan under the Shah and observed similar inhumane conditions.