BANNING Iranian women from working as waitresses to preserve their modesty would only deepen female unemployment, an Iran vice-president said of the latest effort to make women less visible in the workplace.

“We need to approach this matter with care and expertise,” said Shahindokht Molaverdi, the Vice-President for Women’s Affairs, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

“To close the road for these women without providing any other options in return will make them prey to social difficulties.”

Police commander Khalil Helali announced last week that Iranian women “by law” were not permitted to work in public areas of tea houses, coffee shops and restaurants, the Tehran-based Shargh newspaper reported.

Attempts to restrict the presence of women in the workplace have come at a time when one in five Iranian women is jobless, according to government data.

Mohsen Kazemeini, Tehran’s Revolutionary Guards commander, last month called for sweeping gender segregation in offices, saying it is distasteful “for men and women to sit next to each other all day and joke”. In July, the Tehran municipality fired several women and replaced them with men, saying work hours were long and the move was in their best interest, the Iranian Labour News Agency reported at the time. The unemployment of 10.5 percent reflects a jobless rate of 18.9 percent among women. – Bloomberg