Recently, the Isfahan’s Department of Culture and Guidance, prevented the female musicians who are part of the Isfahan’s National Orchestra from going on stage with the rest of the orchestra. Although they are allowed to participate in rehearsals, they are banned from performing in front of the public.

Shahrooz Baluchestani, a flutist in the orchestra said, “Women musicians of Isfahan have not had the permission to go on stage for years. Why they cannot perform on the stage in their own hometown, is a question that has not been logically answered. There are many skillful players among women who are educated in music and have been playing for years.”

In their concerts on January 12 and 13, the orchestra was unable to perform with their full complement of musicians. Based on their gender, not ability, the female performers were denied the pleasure of playing in their own hometown.

The Iranian government has enforced gender segregation regulations in many public spaces, like schools, sports centers, and even public transportation, since the 1979 revolution. Gender segregation rules exist in all aspects of life in Iran. Mixed gender parties and get-togethers in individuals’ homes or public spaces are forbidden. In areas of higher education, women are forced to use specific entrances and attend segregated classes. Even after death, a cemetery, which is not even open to the public, keeps the genders segregated.

The regime uses these rules to suppress Iranian women. They are kept from holding high-ranking positions — particularly the presidency and positions as judges in the judiciary. In politics, in terms of having their voice heard by the regime, women are far behind men.

The state-run ISNA news agency cited Falahati, an official at the presidential directorate of Women and Family Affairs, in December of 2015, when he acknowledged that “compared to the countries in the region such as Azerbaijan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Oman, Iran ranks lower, but from an economic and political perspective it ranks even lower than Chad.”

There are only 17 women among 290 members of the Iranian parliament, giving women only a 5.8% participation. In the administration of Iranian cities and provinces, women hold only 13 positions of 2653 that are available as governors and mayors.

Iran uses its rules and religion to make women’s equality a crime and any of their freedoms illegal. This creates a negative impact, as the culture of Iran is being altered. Women’s voices are silenced by ill-treatment and violence. Hope of real change lies with the young people who continue to protest, and criticize the regime.