Iran’s political-legal system is founded on apartheid, on unjust and untenable discrimination among members of society. Social opportunities and privileges are not distributed on the basis of merit, but according to such indefensible criteria as race, religion, and allegiance to the political regime. While some are deprived of certain basic human rights and the chance to benefit from their talents and efforts, others are afforded “special rights.” They benefit handsomely from coveted social opportunities and privileges. One of the most glaring fault lines of this apartheid system is gender. In Iran, women suffer every injustice and deprivation endured by Iranian men, and gender injustice as well.
In Iran today, any discussion of laws that oppress women is dangerous. It can bring about a prison sentence, or even cost one’s life. Religious traditionalists who support these laws might construe any such criticism as hubris or an attack on the prophet. Some clergy have declared that such critiques imply a rejection of divine edicts, and the more radical followers of these clerics take such declarations as a license to kill the critics. Indeed, according to the criminal laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran, if someone murders me on the suspicion that I have committed heresy, the murderer will not receive any punishment if he proves my heresy in court.
-Akbar Ganji in the November/December issue of Boston Review