Inside Iran Part VI: Women Worried About Freedoms

Published November 28, 2005

| FoxNews.com

FOX News' Amy Kellogg recently visited Iran, where she interviewed journalists, students and others on life inside the Islamic Republic. This is the sixth in a series of eight installments about that trip, which will be aired every night on FOX News Channel.

In Iran, women are defying the traditional belief that they shouldn't be racecar drivers.

Afsaneh Ahmadi not only loves the track but she also loves to navigate. She and her female driver were national off-road rally champions last spring, leaving their male competitors in the dust.

Click in the video box to the right for a report by FOX News' Amy Kellogg.

Increasingly, Iranian women are seen getting involved in sports that are traditionally associated with men; and society is getting used to them playing hard, whether it's polo or golf. Across the board, these women say, sport a form of escapism.

"This is such relaxation," said golfer Talieh Khalkhali. "You don't think of anything else while you are here."

Women used to tee off on the same course where the former shah of Iran used to play golf. But after the Islamic Revolution, not too many women were seen on the green. But a few years ago, women golfers started playing in larger numbers again — albeit in the all-enveloping chador so as not to distract the men. But that clothing proved impractical and they've now loosened up their looks — and their swing.

Increasingly, the simple headscarf and short coat is passing as Islamically correct clothing in Iran.

The late Ayatollah Khomeini's granddaughter is one of Iran's leading feminists but she says western women pay way too much attention to the way Iranian women dress and argues there are more important issues in the struggle for equality.

"We haven't reached the equal rights that we believe exist in Islam," said Iranian feminist Zahra Eshraghi.

Eshraghi says it's not Islam that restricts women, but the particular laws of Iran, which, in some cases, don't treat women as equals. Women in Iran drive, vote and work. But they can't run for president, they can't be judges and they are barred from the clergy — something one of Iran's most important grand ayatollahs thinks is wrong.

But while Iranian women are active in society and their role in society is expanding, some want much more radical change. Even those less outspoken about women's liberation in Iran have expressed concern that the new conservative administration could take away some of the liberties they currently enjoy.

Watch Part VII of the series, which focuses on the relationship between Iran and Iraq, Sunday at 7 p.m. on FOX News Channel's "FOX Report w/Shepard Smith."

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