Iranian Women and Sports Essay

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Islam is the main religion of Iran and much of the Middle East. The Islamic religion has many beliefs just like most other religions. Many of these rules affect women in particular. In the Islamic religion, a major tenet is that a woman’s body, a symbol of sexuality, should be covered (Pfister 12). This rule, along with some other beliefs, makes it particularly hard for Islamic women to participate in sports or athletics. There are many countries, other than Iran, that are experiencing the same dilemma of girls wanting to play a sport, but it is looked down upon by the community. Even in America until Title IX was created, girl’s sports were often thought of as less significant than men’s sports. The sports teams in the West were often underfunded, and unequal (Kristof and WuDonn). While there is no prohibition of women’s sports, and health and fitness are actually emphasized in Iran, women seldom choose to participate in sports (Pfister 12).
Whenever sports are being practiced or played, Islamic laws must be followed. This includes the fact that men and women must practice separately and that women’s bodies must be covered (Pfister 12). They must practice separately because Muslims believe that sex should be saved until marriage. In order to make sure no one breaks this tenet, they like to get rid of any temptation or chance. Men can practice anywhere; however, women can practice in one of two places: private facilities separate from men, or publically where they must wear appropriate clothing and behave accordingly. The problem with this is that the private facilities are not easily found, and even if you can find one they are usually in richer areas because that is who is able to afford them (Pfister 14). As one Iranian woman said, “Most sport centres are reserved for men. [Women] don’t have a tenth of the services [men] have” (Pfister 215).
An advocate for Muslim women’s sports, Fa’ezah Hashemi, created the Muslim Women’s Games in 1993. These games were specifically designed to allow Muslim women to participate in sports while still upholding their religious beliefs (Pfister 214). Fa’ezah Hashemi is the daughter of former Iran President Rafsanjani and is an advocate of girl’s and women’s rights to engage in sport (Vertinsky 84). The way these games work is that men would be allowed to watch the opening ceremonies (with the women properly clothed) and then the men were barred from watching after that. The men are escorted out of the arena so that the women can begin to compete. Men were also not allowed to be officials or have anything to do with the games (Pfister 15).
For many Islamic women, these games are the only chance they have for any competition (Pfister 12). Unfortunately the creation of these games has seemed to make the separation between the two sexes even larger. This seems to make it okay for the girls to be treated unequally. In 2005, the fourth games, they were renamed the Islamic Countries’ Women’s’...

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