To many Westerners, the overall plight of females in Iran appears tenuous. It is illegal for females above the age of 9 to appear in public with out their heads veiled and bodies entirely covered. Women cannot serve in certain occupations, such as the military. It is difficult for a married woman to divorce her spouse, yet for men the right to divorce is unquestioned and done with ease. Married women in Iran who wish to leave the country for any reason must first obtain the permission of their husbands.
Despite their many restrictions, females in Iran are anything but fragile. Iranian women are proud, strong, and work at changing the society they live in. In Erika Friedl’s book, Women of Deh Koh, Lives In An Iranian Village, she shows the reader what it is like to be a woman in Iran. She explains how nothing really stays the same for long, there is always change. She says, “…men grow tall before they wither and die; girls, like flowers, bloom shortly, only to wrinkle and dry up…” The men are really the caretakers and the “bosses.” In the story of Maryam and Kosrshid, it says that she is illiterate and had to do all of her book keeping in her head. She was successful at doing this. She really was taking control in many situations. She wanted the school administration to buy one vineyard that was located in a convenient spot. She was successful at this as well.
Throughout the book, Freidl gives many examples of hardships and triumphant times for women. Obviously everyone in life has many hardships but these women go through so much more. Friedl lets you hear the woman’s voice not just her own observations. She shows how women can be strong, but also women who are struggling. Each chapter focuses on a different woman in the village. Blood, marriage, or both relate most of the women so the stories intertwine. The women are not silent or weak. They endure their burdens, gossip, complain about each other, establish relationships, claim their rights as elders, pray to Allah, all within their allotted rights.
They make sure no one is infringing on their rights, including daughter-in-laws who become part of their families after marriage. Daughter-in-laws are always lazy, or mother in laws are always slave drivers depending on whose story you are reading at the time. Everybody knows each other’s business and keeps things in check.
This book is an insight to a woman’s lifestyle that you can’t see yourself. Little girls are made to marry at as young as 13. Women are beaten because they do not want to get married. It is sad, but true. It is a lifestyle these women have been accustomed to. Hopefully in the future women in these countries will be treated with respect and be given the right to do as they wish, not as their counterparts say they must do.