Iranian town bans women cyclists

This article was published in 1999, in Newsletter 24.

A seaside resort in northern Iran has prohibited women from cycling, saying it is an affront to Islamic morality, the Kayhan newspaper said yesterday. The district governor of Ramsar, on the Caspian coast, said women would be prosecuted even if they were covered from head to toe as required by the country’s Islamic laws, the paper said. ‘Women cyclists cannot protect their chastity even if they are fully covered, so they should avoid this altogether,’ the governor said.
Guardian, Monday 3 May 1999, page 12

At first, I was a mildly outraged, followed by thinking ‘probably not the worst they have to put up with’. However, after further thought I am intrigued and impressed.

How precisely does a woman go about losing her chastity while cycling? After a lot of thought, I cannot think of a vaguely safe method of attempting this. I wonder if any experts on women cyclists might be able to explain this, or are Iranian women far more adventurous than I have formerly imagined.

Ian Miller