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Iran Woman Medical Students Protest Poor Education

TEHRAN, Iran, January 14, 2000 (Reuters) - Students at an all-women medical school in Iran have gone on strike to protest against poor education they blame on segregation of the sexes, a newspaper reported Thursday.

The daily Aftab-e Emrouz said the students from Fatemieh medical school in the city of Qom, a stronghold of the Shi'ite Muslim clergy, had boycotted classes for two weeks.

The students were also refusing to work at a hospital affiliated with the university, the pro-reform daily said.

Fatemieh is Iran's only all-women medical school. It has been serving as a pilot program since the conservative-led parliament passed a law in 1998 to segregate health services in line with its interpretation of Islamic teachings.

The daily said the school and its hospital had fired all male employees in accordance with the law which aims to limit contacts between the sexes.

``But the level of education has dramatically declined since the university experimented with an all-female staff,'' it said. ''Because the hospital only admits women, there are not enough patients at the hospital, about 20 per 60 students.''