We visited an Asian fusion restaurant in Iran’s upscale northern suburbs with an English menu and the requisite selection of mocktails.
The men in our party were given menus with prices. The womens’ had no numbers at all. The inference, it seemed, was that the man would pay for the woman, so she didn’t need to worry about the dollars and cents rials and toman. What this signals about expectations of work and financial management I’m not sure. It just stands as a slightly quirky example of the many things we are learning about women in Iran that are difficult to put together in a kind of grand unifying theory:
- Relative to Pakistan, we’ve seen far more women driving and working in a wide range of jobs. They also eat in restaurants and go out to socialise with their friends, without a male chaperone.
- There are as many women in higher education courses as men, though their rate of employment is much lower.
- Women and men sit separately on local buses (even if they’re a married couple who boards together), and there are dedicated women only carriages at each ends of subway trains.
- The average age at which women marry is twenty two, but the legal age of consent is thirteen. Gross.
- A woman’s word is valued less in a court of law than a man’s.