TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran has opened a women-only branch of a bank in the religious northeastern city of Mashhad in a bid to promote Islamic culture, newspapers reported on Tuesday.
A branch of the state-owned Bank Melli started operating on Monday in Mashhad with an all-female staff including security guards, Tehran Emrouz daily said.
“It is aimed at promoting a culture of chastity and increasing security for the participation of Muslim Iranian women in society,” Bank Melli chief Mahmoud Reza Khavari was quoted as saying.
Many among Iran’s hardline authorities and clerics favour segregation of the sexes and find mingling of unrelated men and women to be corrupting, despite women being required to observe the Islamic dress code in public.
Some university classes are segregated in Iran and women travel in the back of public buses though they are squeezed in with men in shared taxis.
In recent years several women-only parks have been opened across Iran and there are also cab companies employing and serving only women.
Such moves have been met with mixed reaction among Iranians with some traditional religious families backing it while some ask whether segregation can resolve social ills.