The headache faced by sportswomen in Iran

Article published on May 8, 2016
Article published on May 8, 2016

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

It is a real headache for women in Iran to play sports, taking into consideration all the obstacles that the misogynous mollahs impose on them and the harassment from the vice squads. It is downright difficult to go cycling outside of the capital city. For example, the activity is allowed in Machad along roads surrounded by walls 3 metres high. Suffice it to say that girls cannot go cycling. Female cyclists are also banned from parks.

In Ispahan, girls are insulted and even attacked. In the capital, when it is very early, women can be seen jogging or playing volleyball wholeheartedly in the parks, before the arrival of the vice squads a lot later. At ski stations close to the capital, there are separate slopes for men and women, and a mountain morality police force has been set up. Woe to the women who end up on the slope for men during snowfalls...

People will keep quiet about the escapades of those women who venture to do water-skiing, admittedly they are a minority, forced to wear pants and a waterproof jacket made from plastic and closed around the ankles and wrists with elastic bands.  The gear gets filled with water, and when the women are towed by the boat, they get out of the water with much effort, resembling a carboy with an extra 40 kg...

Farnaz Esmaëlzadeh is a climbing and mountaineering champion and has won medals in Iran for years. She began at the age of 13 and has been part of the national team for twelve years. Iran is a mountainous country and girls play altitude sports because at a certain height, there are no longer any militia to harass them.

Suffice it to say that on the summits, headscarves fly away and women breathe. Like a lot of sportswomen, Farnaz did not receive any aid because she is a woman. “No one coached me. I learnt everything by myself” in videos and books, she explains in an interview on Iran Wire, an official site, on 14th April. Farnaz is confronted with the harsh reality of funding in her sport. In Iran there are no sponsors for sportswomen.

“Competing on the national team means that you are a professional sportsperson and can make a living from your talent. That is not the case in Iran. I have never been compensated,” she laments.  She was not even paid as a coach. She competed in Canada and won a silver medal. However, she was the one who had to pay for her plane ticket. The federation did not spend a cent on this “woman”. “I don’t have any sponsors. Men don’t have any problem finding them. All the men on the national team have sponsors, but not the women because of what we wear to climb.” “Indoors, the majority of the time periods are reserved for men. Climbing walls at the gym are found everywhere outdoors, but women are not allowed to use them; safety problems have been put forward...” “There are only three weeks left before the world competitions, and if I do not find any sponsors I will be unable to participate.”

 With Iran Manif 

Farnaz Esmaëlzadeh at a competition in Spain.