A new report from the Human Rights Watch says Iranian women have been allowed to watch international volleyball live along with live broadcasts of World Cup football matches, a step forward for the country’s previous bans on women attending sporting matches.
Iran has banned women from attending many men’s sporting events since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. The ban was officially extended to include volleyball in 2012. That cultural rule has drawn criticism and protest from both inside and outside of Iran. Last summer, media outlets criticised Iran as it hosted the FIVB World League, claiming that Iran listed tickets for women as “sold out” from the moment tickets went on sale.
But this week, the Human Rights Watch reported on perceived progress within the nation, citing volleyball as one arena of progress. According to the Human Rights Watch report, a video tweeted by Iranian journalists on June 25 showed women watching the men’s Iran-Germany volleyball match as part of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League in a major stadium. The Human Rights Watch says that since June of last year, Iran has allowed “a limited number of pre-vetted women to attend volleyball matches.”
Iran has been in the news this month because of the ongoing World Cup in football. The Human Rights Watch reports that “thousands” of Iranian families attending live broadcasts of World Cup matches in Azadi Stadium, and that restrictions on women’s entrance have been lifted. Only a few months ago, police arrested 35 women who had gathered in front of that very same stadium seeking admission, per the HRW.