Meeting Iranian women while in Iran was as difficult for me as meeting an Eskimo. For one thing, if you ever visit Iranian houses, usually your male friend who invited you will start calling from outside the house in a loud voice ''yalla-yalla'' which means "go-go". This is the signal letting women in the household know that a strange man is coming to visit so that they disappear or put on their chador the least. When greeting Iranian women, a man should never shake hands with her. The best is to ignore her existence or the most is so say a simple ''salam'' which means hello. When passing women in the street, I noticed that if the passage was narrow, they would stop walking and go by the street side and turn around so their faces would not be seen, waiting for me to leave and then continue to walk. Yes, it is possible to talk to a group of university girls you met somewhere but the talk is usually where you from and how you like Iran. Meeting women individually and have a deeper conversation with them is almost out of the question. I have often wondered and wanted to know how they feel wearing these black chadors in such a hot weather, I wanted to know how they think about themselves and about their lives. Since I spend most of my time in Iran staying in one of the most traditional and religious cities of the country, it was out of the question. The closer I ever got to know a woman there was the cleaning lady at the hotel I was staying. I should rephrase my statement and say, the closer I ever got to know about a woman's life, since I could not speak with her since she did not know English and I did not know Farsi, to talk to her directly. What I found out however was that she was a very poor woman who married a drug addict who never worked, but send her to clean rooms and take all her salary away to buy his drugs. She accepted her fortune with no complain. Then one day I met a woman who came from Tehran, she looked sophisticated and since she was staying at the hotel, I found the opportunity to talk with her. She told me that she was a geography teacher but she quit her job because she could not stand having to lie to her students, and teach them what the government approved in her classes. As sophisticated as she looked, I noticed that she felt uncomfortable talking to me, so I let her alone. By change I met a wonderful guy through a friend, who was married and lived in Tehran. This guy turned out to be one of the most open minded people I ever met in Iran. When I went to Tehran, I gave him and call, and showing me his hospitality which is so usual for Iranians, he invited me to go to his house. At his house, I was very surprised to be greeted by his wife in a pair of jeans and a T-shirt. She was not wearing any hejab or body covering. This is the first time I ever saw a woman in Iran without covering herself. In Iran it is considered an insult to the men for women not to wear a hedjab in front of strangers. It is disrespectful for both herself and the strange men to present herself this way. Not only did she greeted me in this very unusual way, but she also shook hands with me in a very warm welcome. Seeing her feel so comfortable, really made me happy, and it did not take long for me to start asking her questions while enjoying the glass of tea she offered me. She told me many things about women in Iran I always wanted to know. For one thing, under Islamic law, women have no much rights. A woman cannot get married unless her father agrees, and in the case her father is dead, her older uncle (from her father's side) must agree. In many cases, fathers or other male relatives do not allow women to get married, either because they want them to stay in the house and look after them, or for other personal reasons. Therefore these woman must stay alone for the rest of their lives, only because the men in their families wished it so. If a woman gets married, and that is the most usual, she has no right to refuse anything to her husband, and that includes sex, which means that many times women get raped by their husbands because they cannot refuse them. Women have no right to hold a passport, or travel outside the country, unless their husband sign the appropriate papers agreeing for it. The only security a woman has is the bride money which her husband had agreed to give her before marriage in case he divorces her. The mount of the money given depends with the social class of the woman. The richer she is, the more the money given. However men found a way of getting away from paying this money to their wives in case they divorce them. Here is how. By Islamic law, the children in a family belong to the father until the age of 14, if a husband divorces his wife, he has the right over the custody of the children and he can take them away. A mother is a mother in every country, and mothers will do anything not to loose their children and men use this natural weakness of their ex-wives, and agree to allow them to have the children in exchange of not paying the money they agreed to pay in case of divorce. Many divorced women in Iran stay penniless and poor just so that they can have their children stay with them. Now what happens when a husband beats up his wife and abuses her? By Islamic law, a woman has no right to take her husband to court and therefore she can do nothing to defend herself. To make matters even worse, while the man has the right and he can divorce his wife, the woman on the other had has no right and she cannot divorce her husband. I was so shocked to hear all these things and all I could say was that I was really sorry their religion was like this. The reply from both was that they hated being Muslim, but they had no choice. They would be killed if they changed their religion. Getting in more personal matters, the wife of my friend told me that she works at two jobs to make ends meet while her husband has a 12 hour job, six days a week. I must add here that working for 12 hours is the norm in Iran, and many people work ever for longer hours and 16 is not unusual. I was informed that they got married while she was still young, and she had no time to enjoy life, which for me was strange because I don't know how anybody can actually enjoy life in Iran. In any case, her husband (my friend) has encouraged her to move out for a while and gave her the freedom to go and discover things that she missed in life. Now, I do not believe that many men living in any country would be so caring for their wive's needs, especially an Iranian. I was so happy to meet such a great guy, and he gave me the opportunity to look at another side of Iranian life.