Influential Isfahan imam Sayed Yousef Tabatabaei-Nejad advised women to stay at home and “care for their husbands” while men go out and earn a living during a Friday prayers sermon in late August, an incident that has angered feminists and women’s rights activists in Iran.
“Prioritize your husbands when it comes to being employed. It’s the only way that your marriage will work,” said Ayatollah Nejad. “In the meantime, you can graciously stay at home and be the lady of the house.”
The Isfahan imam, who is one of Ayatollah Khamenei’s representatives, has long espoused traditional values to his listeners, once even going so far as to condone violence against women who do not dress according to the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code.
During last year’s acid attacks, when multiple Iranian women were injured, the conservative cleric said during another Friday prayers, "Hejab is the symbol of women's piety. Anyone who deviates from it is deviating from Islam."
This time, however, Nejad’s qualm was with growing divorce rates in Iran. “One out of five marriages in Isfahan fails,” he said, reported Gilan online. “In the early days of the revolution, women never thought of economic factors in marriage but now they do.”
He added, “I know my views won’t be welcomed by the women preparing to run in the Majlis (parliamentary) elections but I had to say that men need to be prioritized, especially when it comes to employment. Society definitely needs women to be doctors, nurses, teachers and university teachers but the women driving trucks in the desert, for instance, aren’t doing the right thing.”
For many people both in Iran and elsewhere, these are out-dated and old-fashioned views, but Ayatollah Nejad is not alone in pushing for traditional gender roles in Iran. Just recently, professional football and futsal player Nilufar Ardalan was stopped from competing in the futsal Asian Championships by her husband and television sports presenter Mehdi Tootoonchi.
“My husband won’t allow me to travel and my passport, which needs his consent to be renewed, has expired,” Nilufar wrote on her Instagram page.
“Women’s urge to compete for employment is understandable,” conceded Imam Nejad in August. “But if they simply become cleaners, isn’t it better that they just stay at home and take care of their husbands?”
Read the original article in Persian
To read more stories like this, sign up to our weekly email.