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Dangers of Cultural Change: Gender and Female Criminality in Early Post-World War II Iran

Cyrus Schayegh


“Today's civilization … is full of paradoxes.”1 With these words an Iranian women's magazine characterized Iran's state of affairs in 1928. Starting with the Constitutional Revolution (1905 and 1911), and at a faster pace during Reza Shah Pahlavi's rule (1921-41), social reforms, cultural change, and techno-scientific progress were re-forming Iran. The sun appeared to be rising again over the country, awakening it from an almost millenarian 'slumber'.


Female criminality; post world war 2; Iran


“Ba taryak jang bayad kard!” [Opium must be fought!] Payke sa‘adat-e nesvan 1:3 (1928), 66.

“Jonun-e sor‘at” [The madness of speed] Salnameh-ye Pars 15 (1940/41), 184; “Ta‘lil va taqlil-e jara‘em” [Explaining the causes and the reduction of crimes] Nameh-ye shahrbani 2:9 (1937/38), 15; H. Reza‘i, Bimariha-ye maghz va ravan. Jeld-e sovvom: Bimariha-ye damaghi [Cerebral and mental diseases. Vol.3: Cerebral diseases] (Tehran: Chapkhaneh-ye daneshgah, n.d., ca. 1957), 123.

Qadiseh Hejazi, Barresi-ye jara’em-e zan dar Iran [A study of female crime in Iran] (Tehran: Enteshar, 1962). French advisor: Mahmud Shehabi, Preface to Hejazi, Barresi, d/h [?/?]. Criminology: ‘A.-H. ‘Aliabadi, Hoquq-e jana’i (Tehran, n.p., 1955); Sa‘id Hekmat, Ravanshenasi-ye jena’i (Tehran: Daneshgah-e Melli-ye Iran, 1967); Reza Mazluman, Jame‘ehshenasi-yi keifari (Tehran: Entesharat-e Daneshgah-e

Tehran, 1974).

Hejazi, Barresi, 125.

Idem, 5, 102ff.

Haideh Moghissi, Populism and Feminism in Iran (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 72-104. The Shah’s and the regime’s official view, which allowed for a qualified public role: Parvin Paidar, Women and the Political Process in 20th Century Iran (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 148f.

Hejazi, Barresi, 7, 116, 118.

Reforms: Ervand Abrahamian, Iran Between Two Revolutions (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982), 135-149.

Paidar, Women, 122.

Literature: Afshin Matin-asgari, “Sacred City Profaned: Utopianism and Despair in Early Modernist Persian Literature”, in Rudi Matthee and Beth Baron, eds., Iran and Beyond (Costa Mesa: Mazda, 2000), 204.

Socio-economics: Habib Ladjevardi, Labor Unions and Autocracy in Iran (Syracus: Syracuse University Press, 1985). Urbanization: Jean-Pierre Digard, Bernard Hourcade and Yann Richard, L’Iran au XXe Siècle (Paris: Fayard, 1996), 318-327. Politics: Ali M. Ansari, Modern Iran Since 1921 (London: Lomgman, 2003), 75-146.

Moghissi, Populism, 80.

Farzaneh Milani, Veils and Words. The Emerging Voices of Iranian Women Writers (Syracuse: Southern University Press, 1992), especially ch.6: ‘Unveiling the Other: Forugh Farrokhzad’, 127-152.

Dariush Rejali, Torture and Modernity. Self, Society, and State in Modern Iran (Boulder: Westview, 1994), 86f.

One of the most famous and incisive cultural critiques was Jalal Al-e Ahmad’s 1961/62Gharbzadegi [Westoxication]; c.f. Brad Hanson, “The ‘Westoxication’ of Iran: Depictions and Reactions of Behrangi, Al-e Ahmad, and Shariati” International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 15:1 (1983), 1-23.

Hejazi, Barresi, 5, 102, 104f.

Hejazi, Barresi, 125; Moghissi, Populism, 82-85.

Mahmud Shehabi, Preface to Hejazi, Barresi, d/h [?/?].

Hejazi, Barresi, 110f.

Idem 110ff.

Idem, 125, 171.

Idem, 125, 172ff.

Idem, 122, 171.

Idem, 122, 112.

Idem, 116. The use of the term latmeh may not be accidental:

translatable as ‘blemish’ or ‘injury’, it carries both moral and physiological connotations.

Cyrus Schayegh. Science, medicine, and class in the formation of semi-colonial Iran, 1900s-1940s, (Ph.D. Columbia University, 2004).

Hejazi, Barresi, 116.

Idem, 116f.

Idem, 117-119, quote 118.

Idem, 118.

Link between demographics and hygiene, genetics, and eugenics, and anxiety about slow population growth into the 1930s: Schayegh, Science, ch.5.

Hejazi, Barresi, 126. She also states that in 1933 and 1934, a total of 43 respectively 170 women were accused of crimes in Tehrani courts, representing 2.1% respectively 10.4% of all accused (idem, 179).

Idem, 148.

Statistics for the years 1933 and 1934: idem, 179.

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DOI: 10.32380/alrj.v0i0.257


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