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How Do Iranian Women Feel About Covering the Heads?

In a completely unscientific survey, we asked a number of young women how they felt about being obliged to wear a head covering. Our overall impression was that around half liked it and half did not. It certainly is not as universally unpopular as Western tourists to Iran might suppose.

Iranian girls must cover their heads starting at age 9. In religious families, some girls begin this practice even earlier. But at age 9 it is obligatory. We have heard that the practice was most difficult for women who were already adults when the 1979 revolution took place. For those women, who were used to one sort of lifestyle under the Shah, they had to make a sudden change in the way they dressed. Of course, this was often resisted and was not welcome.

But today, for girls who are born and raised with this practice accepted throughout Iran, it appears to be easier to fulfill the obligation of wearing a head scarf in public.

For female tourists visiting Iran, head covering is also an obligation. Tourists of both sexes who visit to Iran are obliged to dress modestly, no shorts, mini-skirts, etc. But we never saw the former morals police out making sure that this was being carried out. It is all more or less self-policing.

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