Plan for Gender Separation in Iran’s Hospitals
Friday 20 January 2012
Change for Equality: While discussions about and adoption of policies on gender segregation in the public sphere date back to the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, efforts to actually implement physical segregation of men and women have not been successful beyond schools. Segregation at Universities has been proposed and has come up more systematically as a subject of interest in the past few years, but with limited resources it is difficult to implement this system. Instead the establishment of more all female Universities has been proposed and planned. The bus system is another place where segregation has been implemented, but anyone who has lived in Iran, will testify that the segregated bus system, where women are to ride in the back and men to ride in the front, doesn’t hold with overcrowded buses. Other proposals for segregation have failed not only because the public is not responsive and supportive, but as a matter of practicality.
Still despite all the problems facing the country, this issue remains a top priority for some policymakers in Iran and over the last few years the discussion has taken on a more hysteric tone. Besides segregation of men and women in elevators and also at universities, segregation of men and women at hospitals are being proposed. Below is an interesting report on this issue by Dr Shideh Rezaie published in Iran Rooyan website.
Report By: Dr. Shideh Rezaei
“Creation of single-gender hospital is necessary…” A familiar title that once in a while turns into the subject of the day by officials and representatives of Majlis (Parliament) and following the hot fever that ensues one hospital or sections of several hospitals turns into the cold sweat on the face of the planners, leaving the subject alone for a while. But this time, the Minister of Health and Medial Education has entered this tumultous arena.
Recently the plan for establishment and expansion of specialized hospitals for women was again brought up for discussion among the decision makers of Iran’s health and medical field. The subject of Iranian gender separated hospitals was first brought up during the fifth Majlis (Parliament), when Marzieh Vahid-Dastjerdy, Iran’s current Minister of Health and Medical Education, was parliament member and one of the architects and advocates of this plan. With her appointment as the Minister of Health and Medical Education, this subject, more serious than ever, has returned to the arena of political issues of the decision makers of health in the country.
Execution of this plan during the Fifth Majlis (Parliament) was unsuccessful, but in 1385 (2006) it was brought up in the government and approved. Based on this policy, the Mahdieh Hospital of Tehran in northern side of the Shoosh square, started its operation as the first specialized and ultra-specialized for women in 1386 (2007). And this time only for women.
Expansion of women’s hospitals in every province is the first phase of execution of gender separated hospitals and it appears that five or six medical universities in the provinces have declared their readiness to establish these hospitals in big metropolitan areas. But this is not the full story. Parallel with these discussions, the condition of women patients’ clothing in hospitals was challenged. Minoo Aslani, the head of the Basiji Militia’s Women’s Association declared that the clothing of women patients in the operation room is not acceptable and is not worthy of the Islamic Republic’s class and as such it apears that along with the plan for gender separation, the plan for covering (hejab) and modesty will slowly come to the hospitals and after a while should be expecting the plan for Islamic operation rooms.
Although since the beginning of these plans in 1376 (1997), no opposition has been made, but in reality only one hospital in Tehran, with the support of men, has been able to operate for women. Experts consider this failure due to the lack of financial and human resources in certain professional groups and social services and explain that currently many other hospitals are also facing difficulties with resources and equipment.
Ultimately Mrs. Dastjerdi has brought up for consideration that building of special hospitals for women in all the provinces requires allocation of 3 thousand billion Toman budget.
And now the question to consider: Are there not more important issues other than the establishment of special hospitals for women in the health policy of Iran? While AIDS is taking on a feminine look and while Iran has the third highest rank for women’s suicide and while the average age for women with breast, womb and ovary cancer is 10 years younger than the world average: Isn’t it more logical that instead of spending such a high amount on the gender-separated hospitals to spend it on keeping women alive and improving the quality of life for them?