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More Gender Segregation At Iranian Universities

Male and female students will be separated at a Tehran university in the upcoming academic year in the latest instance of gender segregation in higher education, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

Allameh Tabatabai University President Seyed Sadredin Shariati said the plan would be implemented first in general courses with a large number of students.

Co-ed classes remain the norm at Iranian universities, but a growing number of schools are choosing to separate male and female students.

Earlier this year, Ferdowsi University's Department of Engineering in Mashhad said it would segregate students by gender in nearly 50 courses, according to the U.S.-based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

Gender segregation was first suggested in 2009 by Hojatoleslam Nabiollah Fazlali, the representative of Iran's Supreme Leader at Khajeh Nasir Toosi University of Technology.

Fazlali criticized mixed-gender universities, saying they prepare the ground for relationships with dangerous consequences for students. He said placing male and female students in the same class is like "putting meat in front of a cat."

Europe-based women's rights activist Asieh Amini told Radio Farda that gender segregation at universities mostly works against Iranian women.

She said that once the genders are segregated, the universities are not be able to provide the same level of facilities and that female students come out worse.

She also said a considerable increase in the number of women studying at Iranian universities in recent years could have helped to balance out gender inequality in the workplace, but that measures such as gender segregation could prevent that from happening.