‘We hate the headscarf’: can women find freedom in Tehran’s female-only parks?

Parks exclusively for women are popping up in Iranian cities, but critics are divided over whether this is just another ploy to keep them hidden in public

“I love to take off my headscarf,” says Laleh, 47, a hairdresser from Tehran. She’s sitting with a group of friends around one of the many picnic tables in the Mother’s Paradise, a park in the Iranian capital. She’s wearing a fringed mint-green T-shirt through which you can see her bare stomach. “We can wear airy clothes here, and that’s a freedom I really enjoy.”

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