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Women banned from courses

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Iran's decision to forbid women from studying dozens of subjects including nuclear physics and oil engineering threatens to wipe out one of the last vestiges of gender equality in the country, an exiled Nobel Peace laureate said.

The Islamic Republic's Ministry of Science, Research and Technology has barred women in 36 universities from 77 fields of study, according to state-run media.

The new rules ''demonstrate that the Iranian authorities cannot tolerate women's presence in the public arena,'' Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi wrote in an open letter to the United Nations dated Friday.'

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