TEHRAN (Reuters) - New fiberglass barriers and inventive uses of water sprays on Iran’s Caspian coast aim to let women use the beaches more freely while adhering to strict Islamic segregation rules, a newspaper said on Thursday.
“At parts of these beaches, we will implement modern plans to create a veil to make it usable for women,” an official from the coastal Mazandaran province was quoted by Farhang-e Ashti daily as saying.
The Caspian coast in north Iran has a string of popular hotels and resorts, which become packed in the summer.
But women are restricted to swimming behind screens that keep them out of sight from the public but also stop them seeing others on the beach. Iran’s Islamic laws require that women’s bodies should be shielded from men outside their immediate family.
On segregated beaches women swim in one-piece costumes or even bikinis.
Now the authorities plan to set up fiberglass barriers on some beaches that will act like one-way mirrors — letting women see the rest of the public but shielding them from others, the official from Mazandaran’s tourist organization said.
The barriers will extend 60 or 70 meters into the sea, and to prevent any passing male sailor staring at the women from the seaward end, sprays of water described as “waterfalls” would be use to block the view, the official named as Mr Abbasnejad said.
“This is part of a project to allow freer use of Caspian beaches,” he said, adding that the project would be implemented by June 5, in time for the annual surge of visitors.
Segregation affects many parts of life in Iran, such as separate areas in mosques and different queues for men and women on ski slopes. But in popular shared taxis in cities women can often find themselves squashed up against male passengers.