Although women in Iran are still banned from riding a motorbike in public and are not able to get licenses, Behnaz Shafiei (the only Iranian female rider to have done professional road racing) was among the first group of women to get official permission to practice on off-road circuits. But Behnaz Shafiei continues to work hard to break that status quo.
This 26-year-old woman motorcycle and motocross rider is among the first group of female motorcyclists in Iran to have recently obtained official permission to practice on off-road circuits. She is also the only Iranian female rider to have done professional road racing.
Although Behnaz Shafiei and a handful of other woman motocross riders can operate in clubs, they are not allowed to enter competitions or ride on official race tracks. This includes one at Tehran’s magnificent Azadi sport complex, currently exclusive to men.
The standard of living for women in Iran is slightly higher than that in neighbouring middle eastern countries. In Saudi Arabia, for example, women are not allowed to drive at all. In Iran, women are allowed to drive, but they’re still not able to obtain licenses for riding a motorcycle, which prevents them from competing.
Behnaz Shafiei and some fellow motorcycle enthusiasts have campaigned to be allowed to use some tracks. The result for Behnaz practices three times a week, is to race on the outskirts of Tehran, away from glare, hidden under her helmet.
Things are changing. Behnaz Shafiei’s story has attracted a great deal of interest at home. Behnaz is hopeful that soon she will also be allowed to compete. She hopes soon that the sport she loves, will soon become free for women to take part in.
More about Behnaz Shafiei on Facebook.
Photos: Mohammad Moheimany of jamejamimage.ir