A campaign for women’s rights over in Iran has continued for 3 years, thanks to the trailblazing Iranian, Behnaz Shafiei. This 27-year-old modern day Wonder Woman has managed to gain the spotlight from the sports ministry of Iran for the staging of something that has never been done before.
Iran’s modesty laws ban women from driving and riding motorbikes, but Behnaz has set out to do just that. 15 Iranian women have followed in her footsteps despite multiple protests to compete in Iran’s first motorbike race consisting of only women. However, this was not done all securely, as just 2 weeks prior arrests were made from women committing “obscene acts” by riding motorbikes through the Iranian city of Dezful.
Though Behnaz was able to start and train her passion within the Atashgah mountains in solitude with permission from her brother to use his bike, without being seen or arrested herself, riding a motorbike openly on the streets of Iran would lead to her detainment. However, knowing this, she chose to do so anyway by covering herself completely to appear as a man and not as women defying the law.
It wasn’t until she approached the sports ministry of Iran with the idea of her competing in a motorbike racing competition that the knowledge of being allowed to do so was barred. She was even told to go back to her home to take care of the chores for her family, which was when she became determined to not only race but have an entire race for females, barring any men.
It’s no secret that women attending sporting events, where only men are allowed to compete, is a very touchy subject in Iran, but with participation slowly creeping up on the sports ministry, efforts are increasing for equal rights to compete and play. While there are strict clothing regulations for females and ordered separation of men and women by Iranian law, Behnaz stays fully determined.
Before that occurred, though, Iran’s sports ministry gave her permission to ride on off-road tracks, which later turned into her being allowed to compete in the men’s races. However, she was constantly reminded that a hijab was mandatory during such races.
After much effort to show the ministry that the sport was indeed popular among women in Iran, the trailblazing Iranian was granted permission and full authorization to organize an all-female motorbike race. Though conditions occurred that would hinder most from continuing on the day of the race, the competing women worked together to overthrow each issue so the race could go on.
The trailblazing Iranian is now currently waiting for the ban put in place by the President of the United States, Donald Trump, to be over, as she was most recently invited by an American motorbike racer, also a female.
History was made on February 3rd, 2017 where the first all-female motorbike race was conducted on a Karaj race track in Iran. Behnaz Shafiei achieved the beginning step of her dream, and she even took first place.