Shoaib sent me his latest article about Iran and women, reasoning correctly that I would be particularly interested in the plight of women, not being a left-wing feminist. In his message he called the article Today inside Iran: tears of women. In the newspaper it is called a little more sedately Iran: clerics or pimps? Well, maybe not that sedately.
Among other matters he talks of a slightly unexpected business that the Iranian mullahs appear to be involved in: pimping.
In the 1970s, Bostonians looking for a proverbial good time went to the "Combat Zone" and New Yorkers flocked to 42nd Street; in contemporary Iran, the holy city of Qom is known [unofficially] as a place of "both pilgrimage and pleasure." There, prostitutes wearing veils and even chadors mill about temples or sit together in public courtyards where men can inspect them. Sometimes a male go-between [most of them are clerics]offer "introductions," at which point the prostitutes pull aside their headgear so the potential client can get a glimpse, but the whole process is fairly subtle. For an outsider, it's difficult to pick a street girl out of a crowd. Qom may have become a prostitution hot spot due to the abundance of shrines. Young female runaways with no shelter come to the city knowing they can take refuge at holy sites by sleeping in rooms intended for pilgrims. They have no way of making a living, so after awhile they get involved with the sex trade. The city's young theological students and transient tourists form the main clientele.Hmm. I wonder if that ranks as high in categories of female oppression as wearing a bikini [the quote from Jamie Glazov towards the end].
There is a good deal more in Shoaib's article. It is long and quite harrowing but for those with a strong stomach well worth a read.