In recent days article headlines in the Western media have proclaimed that Iran is banning women from higher education. Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Prize winner and a prominent Iranian human rights activist, was among the first to raise the alarm about this issue in a report on the human rights situation in Iran in the months of July-August 2012. Even the State Department has now entered the fray, with spokeswoman Victoria Nuland calling on the Iranian government to “…protect women’s rights and to uphold Iran’s own laws and international obligations which guarantee non-discrimination in all areas of life, including access to education.” Is there a systematic policy by the Islamic regime to exclude women from universities? The political reality behind these recent actions is more complex than the media headlines may reveal.

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