Category Archives: Women’s Rights

Iranian Women Activists Fight Controversial ‘Polygamy’ Bill

An Iranian government bill which has been sitting on the back-burner of legislation for  years has resurfaced and if passed through parliament and enacted will only further impinge on women’s rights in Iran – a country which already regards women as second class citizens.

The Iranian government calls it the Family Protection Bill, but activists call it the “Anti-Family Protection Bill.” It would give men the right to take a second wife without the permission of the first, and it would enshrine a man’s right to have an unlimited number of temporary marriages, which can last from 10 minutes to 99 years. Those arrangements come from Shariah law and have always existed in Iran, but the Family Protection Bill would make them official.

Two groups – the International Coalition Against Violence in Iran, and the Association of Iranian Researchers – arranged a press conference in London last week to raise awareness of the issue.

Women opposed to the articles in the bill that pertain to polygamy went on a brave and creative odyssey more than a year ago to confront it, traveling around Iran to talk to women whose lives have been adversely affected by their husbands taking second wives.

The women wrote their stories on pieces of cloth; if they were illiterate, they had someone else write them down. Then they sewed the pieces together into a quilt.

The quilt is still in Iran, but a digital image was smuggled out.

“Most of the stories are from around Iran, not from Tehran. They are sad stories,” said Rouhi Shafii of the International Coalition Against Violence in Iran.

Here is

a translation of one of the stories:

“A few years after my marriage, my husband started telling me, jokingly, that I looked like an old woman. I was five years younger than he. He began beating me and broke my hands several times. When he talked of taking up another wife, I took it as a joke. He wouldn’t do that, I thought. We have two children. But one day he married a young girl and wanted to get a two story building to bring his bride to live with us. I made him swear on the Koran not to do that, and he took his child bride elsewhere. He forgot about us and spent all his earning enjoying his bride. I was providing for the children by working at people’s homes or hairdressing salons. My younger son says: ‘when I grow up, I will kill my dad.’”

A group of women activists also gathered 15,000 signatures from women opposed to the law – signatures complete with their addresses – a very brave action in Iran where so-called “dissidents” are often interrogated, arrested and jailed or worse. The activists brought the signatures and the quilt to Parliament last year, to try to stop the legalization of the polygamy articles as part of the new law. Parliament accepted the signatures, but would not take the quilt.

The ‘Chehel Tikeh’ banner tour is aimed at raising awareness about the discriminatory bill

The activists say they discovered that at least 65 male members of the country’s 290-strong parliament had two or more wives. This is despite the fact that polygamy contravenes the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Iran has ratified. Article 23 stipulates that states must ensure that men and women have equal rights when marrying or at the dissolution of marriage.

Unfortunately, the activists could not count on female Members of Parliament for support as many are as conservative as the men, and support the legislation.

At this point, the two articles of the bill that deal with polygamy are on hold, but they have not been canceled out of the bill. Shafii believes activism has kept those bills from being passed so far.

Take Action!
To learn more about the important work of the International Coalition Against Violence in Iran visit their website.

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Women in the Islamic Republic

On Monday

the birth anniversary of Fatima, the daughter of the prophet Muhammad, which is “Women’s Day” in Iran, Ahmadinejad said there is no limitation on the progress of women in the Islamic Republic.

The President also criticized the way Western society uses women as “a tool for making money.”

So if there is “no limitation,” why are women often treated as second-class citizens?

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A Women’s Day Gift from the UN

Iran has joined the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women. That’s right – Iran, a country that stones and hangs women for the crime of being raped

or for not sufficiently covering their hair, will be able to discuss the status of women’s rights throughout the world.

This must be the UN’s way of wishing women worldwide a happy International Women’s Day.

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Women and Soccer Broadcasts don't mix

Women in Iran, already banned from attending men’s soccer matches at stadiums, are now banned from watching live broadcasts of the games at public movie theaters.

Iranian authorities called for the ban because “the presence of prednisone vs hydrocodone women and families at movie theaters increases security risks and inappropriate behavior.”

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Lawyer Sentenced for Defending Rights

Once again, the Iranian regime attempts to silence the defense of human rights for its citizens.

Iranian human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, was sentenced to 11 years in prison, including 5 years for “acting against national security”, another 5 years for not wearing a hijab during a videotaped message, and 1 year for “propaganda against the regime”. She is also banned from practicing law or leaving the country for 20 years.

Sotoudeh is well known for defending women and children. She also served as a defense lawyer for many Iranians detained during the presidential elections in 2009.

TAKE ACTION! Show your support for Nasrin Sotoudeh here.

Read more here.

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German Reporters Still in Jail

German political and business leaders appealed Iran this week to free two German reporters held in Iran since October.
The two reporters were arrested while interviewing the son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a woman sentenced to death for adultery.
Iran says the German reporters did not have permission to work as journalists in the country.
Read the full story here.
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Celebs: No to Women in Iran being Stoned to Death

More than 80 celebrities called on Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to release Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the woman in Iran sentenced to be stoned to death for adultery.

While this move is both praiseworthy and important, it will be very surprising if the letter has any affect. The Iranian regime, which denounces and criticizes the West, is unlikely to be swayed by the icons of Western culture, in its implementation of Shariah law.

But we cannot stop trying! Be proud of these celebrities and follow their actions! Click here to see how you can help.

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