Tahmineh wears the all-encompassing, black chador because her parents insist on it, and because neighbours in her conservative community gossip about women who choose to wear the headscarf and manteau, the overcoat that is meant to keep curves concealed.
But in Tehran, being a virgin does not mean that Tahmineh has not had sex. Of course I want to have proper sex, but until I know for sure that my boyfriend wants to get married, I can’t risk it.” Before Tahmineh graduated to anal sex, she and her friends were having la-paee (literally, “thigh”) sex, where the man uses a woman’s clenched thighs to orgasm.
Over the past ten years, divorces have tripled in Iran, with one in every five marriages ending – the ratio is even higher in the capital.
Since graduating in business studies, Tahmineh has not been able to find a job and she still lives at home with her parents.
Sometimes punters are ripped off, or they are scared off by rumours of government-planted honey traps.
Tehran has many social layers that are mixed up with religion, money and class, and each group lives by its own set of rules.
Then at university, I saw that some couples went out with each other and didn’t try to hide it.
It was a revelation for me, as it wasn’t treated as something terrible.
Graphic photos are bluetoothed and texted across the city; internet chat rooms and social sites are full of hook-ups.
And I noticed that the women who were more independent and had boyfriends seemed happier.
I also couldn’t deny my body’s natural needs,” Tahmineh says.
Tahmineh believes there are rising numbers of girls like her, who are from religious or traditional families but prepared to experiment sexually before marriage.
“Most girls in my area think that just being in a confined space with a boy is a sin, but my best friend has had la-paee sex, and I know lots of girls from less strict families who are allowed to hang out with boys, but who are still expected to be virgins, so they all have anal sex instead.” This phenomenon is so ubiquitous in Tehran that anal sex has become the butt – pun intended – of many a Tehrani joke.