October 18, 2005


Female firefighters find they can take the heat in Iran (Scott Peterson, 10/19/05, The Christian Science Monitor)

[A]t Station No. 9 in Karaj, west of Tehran, a small unit prides itself on being like few others: the only squad of women firefighters in the Middle East.

Not every rescue requires a feminine touch. But in the Islamic Republic, which tolerates little public mixing of the genders, the 11 women here are breaking new ground and creating a model for cities across the country. They also represent a strain of pragmatic progressivism in Iran that is rarely matched elsewhere in the region.

Women are still subject to a strict Islamic dress code here, though at the moment it is loosely enforced. But there is a women's police division. Women parliamentarians and even vice presidents and a Nobel Peace Prize winner voice their opinions loudly. And in Iran's roiling political atmosphere, women can be criticized as harshly as men. [...]

Finding a balance between Islam and gender issues is easier in Iran than in some other Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia, where women are not allowed to drive, much less hold office.

A women's unit might have made a difference in the holy city of Mecca in March 2002, during a blaze at a girls' school. Some 15 girls died and 50 were injured when Saudi religious police, according to eyewitnesses, beat the girls and kept them from leaving the burning building because they were not wearing "correct" Islamic dress.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 18, 2005 5:56 PM

It's outrageous that in a country where men need jobs and Western morality is already despised that we encourage and facilitate women to take up a man's job. I'm just guessing but I'd bet their women can't lift a two hundred pound man and carry him down a ladder either. Fools.

Posted by: NC3 at October 18, 2005 6:56 PM

Iran won't have much of a future if they don't encourage and facilitate women - the elite nations of the future will be using brain power, not broad backs, and unless Iran wants to be the Idaho or Nebraska of the world during the 21st century, they should take advantage of 100% of the available brains.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 18, 2005 10:08 PM