Women’s rights in Iran? Harassment, arrest, and detention. And that’s for starters!
by Alan Simons
Last Friday, Anne Bayefsky in her article “Human Rights” published by FoxNews.com said: “Iran is one of the most abysmal places on earth when it comes to human rights. Torture is widespread. Religious minorities are viciously persecuted. Homosexuals are hanged and strung up in public. Flogging, amputation, and execution by stoning are all part of the criminal “law” and actually applied. Iranian women do not have equal rights. Nor can they run away, since they cannot get a passport without permission of a husband or male relative.
“Nevertheless, Iran is a full voting member of the UN Commission on the Status of Women and the UN Human Rights Council refuses to get tough. Now on the table in Geneva, courtesy of Sweden, is a one-page, three paragraph resolution ‘calling upon’ Iran to do only one thing: permit a human rights investigator ‘access to visit the country.’ More reporting. No doing.”
A few weeks ago the UN’s Special Rapporteur’s March 2013 report on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, by Dr Ahmed Shaheed, was published. With respect to women’s rights, here in part is what Dr. Shaheed had to say:
1. [Iranian] Government representatives have asserted that while it is believed that “men and women are equal in human dignity and human rights, this is not to be confused with equating men and women’s role in family, society, and in the development process”.
2. Article 1117 of Iran’s Civil Code, provides men with the right to legally prohibit their wives from engaging in work outside the home if they can prove that the work is incompatible with the family’s interests.
3. In June 2012, [Iran’s] Science and Technology Ministry announced that women sitting for the national entrance exam would be prohibited from enrollment in 77 fields of study at 36 public universities across the country. It was reported that female enrollment in hundreds of courses offered during the 2012-2013 academic year at Iranian public universities was substantially restricted, including in courses on petroleum engineering, data management, communications, emergency medical technology, mechanical engineering, law, political sciences, policing, social sciences, and religious studies. Furthermore, policies to enforce gender segregation provide “single-gendered” university majors for alternating semesters in lieu of entirely banning access to either male or female candidates. In response to criticism from Iranian parliamentarians who called for an explanation, the Science and Higher Education Minister responded that 90% of degrees still remain open to both sexes, that single-sex courses were needed to create “balance”, and that “some fields are not very suitable for women’s nature”.
4. A married woman may not obtain a passport or leave the country without her husband’s written permission. In November 2012 the Chair of the Parliament’s (Majlis) National Security and Foreign Policy Commission announced an amendment to the country’s passport laws that would require unmarried women under age 40 and males under the age of 18 to acquire the consent of their guardian or the ruling of a sharia judge in order to acquire a passport. Although this amendment was finally rejected, it was reported that the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of the Parliament (Majlis) announced further amendments to the passport bill which would continue to allow single women over the age of 18 to obtain a passport without the aforementioned permission, but would now require them to obtain permission from their father or guardian from the paternal line in order to leave the country.
5. It has been reported that women’s rights activists continue to be harassed for making statements that criticise policies or Government actions; organisational meetings continue to be disbanded; the denial of permits required to peacefully assemble persist; and women believed to be associated with entities such as the Mourning Mothers and the One Million Signatures Campaign continue to face harassment, arrest, and detention. Women’s rights advocates are frequently charged with national security crimes and “propaganda against the system”. Activists are also reportedly subject to travel bans and other forms of suppression.
6. Furthermore, a number of Iranian laws continue to discriminate against women. Article 1108 of the Iranian civil code, for example, compels a woman’s obedience to her husband. Furthermore, women cannot transfer nationality and citizenship to their husbands or children, which has rendered stateless thousands of children of Iranian women who have married Afghan or Iraqi refugees, as well as expatriate Iranian women married to non-Iranians.
7. Women are allowed to serve as legal counsellors, for example, but are prohibited from issuing and signing final verdicts. Also, no woman has ever been appointed to the Council of Guardians and the Expediency Council. Furthermore, only nine of the 490 women that reportedly presented their candidatures for the March 2012 parliamentary elections were elected, giving women only 3.1% of the 290 seats in the Majlis.
And Iran is a full voting member of the UN Commission on the Status of Women?
(Photo credits: the gatewaypundit | missionfreeiran)