Zeeba and Maliheh ride down the pavement at a decaying skate park. They are the sole occupants of the hangout. Pushing off the ground, Zeeba approaches a funbox, fearless. She goes up and over, then drops down to the ground. Maliheh try to ollie, but the board slip out from under her. The two friends smile. She runs over and picks up her board.
In Iran women enjoy more rights than the women of other Islamic countries. By no means does this mean that they are free from oppression. Women are allowed to vote, attend university, and even hold office. Still, the youth continue to push the boundaries and test the limits of the current political regime. They don't ask for permission, but rather take what they want. Sometimes they are met with criticism and even suffer legal repercussions. Luckily, that hasn't stopped them. These girls did not pick up skateboarding as a metaphorical middle finger to the Theocrats, but because it was fun. The 'fuck you' came later; it grew out of what they considered a hobby. Zeeba and Maliheh couldn't be happier.
Decked out in DC's and ripped blue jeans, the girls hit the ramps. Maliheh climbs up a quarter-pipe, while Zeeba stands off to the side. She drops in and flies down the pavement, hijab waving behind her. Avoiding the potholes, she ollies up to a rail, and grinds it, barely sticking the landing. Her fist high in the sky explains her happiness.
"WOOOOOOOOOOOO!!" yells Zeeba in excitement.
She skates over to Meliheh and congratulates her. The girls continue to skate around the park. Zeeba sets her board up facing a ramp, and looks at it. She kicks off and barrels towards the ramp when they hear an authoritative voice in the distance. Behind them an Iranian police officer approaches them. In a split second, they high tail it out of there on their boards. The officer cannot keep up. Zeeba and Maliheh even surprised themselves with their speed. Once they are far enough away, the hide in a shop.
This isn't the first time the girls have had to flee their favorite hangout. First it was their parents. Conservative muslims, they did not easily accept that their daughters were out in public, wearing western clothing, hanging out with boys, and participating in sports. Even for Maliheh's mothers, who participating in the Iranian revolution it was too much. Then it was the boys at the park. When the girls showed up, boards in hand, they were laughed at and ridiculed. But day after day they would wait for the boys to leave, and practice, until one day the boys took notice and saw their skill. They were finally accepted. Years later, the locals are accustomed to it. In fact, it has spread across the country and girls everywhere were inspired to take up sports. Now it is the government that has the problem. They like to be the ones who decide what rights women can have. But the young girls are not happy with that. They don't wait to be given rights, they go out and exercise them.
Peeking around the corner, they see the officer has left, and is no longer looking for them. They exit the shop and decide to head home. But they will be back tomorrow. Such rebels.
Photo credit to Nooshafarin | Humans of Tehran