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.
A woman shops for textbooks in downtown Tehran. More than 60% of university students in Iran are female, according to official statistics. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
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.