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Saturday 12 November 2016
Then in her late 20s and rebounding from a string of broken relationships, Fahimeh Azadi moved alone into an apartment in working-class southern Tehran. Her very presence, she recalled, was “a walking challenge to the men.”
Azadi had joined a growing number of women in Iran who are electing to remain single, defying their parents’ expectations and the strict conventions of the Islamic Republic.
Still, Azadi had to balance independence with caution. She ascended the staircase only when it was clear of neighbors and admonished visiting friends to walk on tiptoes to avoid attracting attention.
But men in the building still wondered about the single young woman upstairs.
“Is she divorced?” one asked a neighbor. The connotation being: Is she available for sex?
“My guard was up,” Azadi recalled. “I behaved in a way that men didn’t dare poke their noses into my affairs. And I managed to live there for two years without anyone harassing me.”