Iran's first female-only Internet cafe has opened near the capital Tehran aimed at creating an "appropriate atmosphere" for young women, a semi-official Iranian news agency said on Monday.

Under strict Islamic law introduced after Iran's 1979 revolution, men and women who are not related should not mix in public, even though this ban is often broken in practice, for example in several Internet cafes in Tehran.

Many young people in Iran are avid users of the Internet, some using chatrooms to socialize with the opposite sex.

"The atmosphere of most Internet cafes in the city is not appropriate for girls, therefore this Internet cafe has been started up in a complete female atmosphere," Mehr News Agency said.

Customers in the city of Karaj west of Tehran will enjoy high speed Internet and free computer lessons, it said, adding the cafe operated under the supervision of a student organization.

Iranian officials say strict rules on sex segregation as well as the Islamic dress code for women are aimed at protecting them and are not restricting their rights.

Parts of Iranian beaches are reserved for women and there are also parks for women only. Officials have previously announced the establishment of a female-only island in a northwestern lake as well as a taxi company serving women only.

Police last month launched a crackdown on women flouting the dress code during the warm summer months. Under Islamic law, women are obliged to cover their hair and wear long, loose-fitting clothes to disguise their figures.

Since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won the presidency in 2005, promising a return to the values of the revolution, hardliners have pressed for tighter controls on "immoral behavior".