Will 2023 Relieve Women In Iran And Afghanistan From Oppressive Laws? – OpEd


A holistic view of happenings in the year 2022 give more cause for concern than hope for the world community. While significant developments have happened in the field of science and technology in the year 2022, peace and harmony in the world still remain a distant dream. Many people seem to have become pessimistic and think that aspiring for peace in the world is an unrealistic and utopian expectation.

While several unhappy events have taken place in 2022 particularly due to war and conflict, natural as well as man made calamities, one of the worst things that have been noted is the denial of rights and privileges for women by law in a few Islamic countries, particularly in Iran, Afghanistan and to some extent in Saudi Arabia.

While the growth in the civilization over the last several decades has ensured that women are treated as equal with men in all respects by enforcement of law by most governments, still atrocities against women and exploitation of women have been reported in isolated manner in several countries. Offences against women and heaping insults on them in private households and public places  and work spots have been reported and particularly sexual assaults against young women are being reported too frequently. This implies that a section of menfolk continue to think and act as if women are inferior creation of God and their weaker physical attributes in comparison with men justify the women being viewed as weaker and susceptible to exploitation.

While such disturbing trends prevail in many countries, the law and regulations in such countries do protect women’s liberty and freedom and atrocities against women by men are treated as punishable offences.

However, what is happening in Iran and Afghanistan are different from the rest of the world , as oppressive acts against women have the sanction of law.

There are several Islamic countries where regulations are enforced by law, where severe dress restrictions exist for women, the marital laws are oppressive  and polygamy is permitted where women are virtually reduced to the level of  pleasure objects for men and restrictions exist for women in places of worship

The recent ban on university education for women in Afghanistan is the worst development that have taken place in living memory. To put it bluntly, any  government which put such restrictions on women should be viewed as uncivilized and extremely backward.

What is particularly distressing is that there have been no effective force in the world, which can safeguard the liberty  of women in countries such as Iran and Afghanistan and ensure the dignified status of women in society.  

There are, of course, some isolated groups all over the world that make statements against such restrictions on women but they have little impact in countries like Iran and Afghanistan.

Under the circumstances, one option is that United Nations Organisation should take a firm stand against oppression   and denial of rights for women by law in any country and declare such regulations as inhuman and governments in such countries as uncivilized.

At present, the United Nations has the concept of maintaining peace keeping force to send multinational peace keeping force to disturbed countries to protect the victims. We also have institutions like Red Cross, which go to the aid of victims and sufferers during war and calamities.

In the same way, UNO should examine whether it can have a wing aptly named as “Oppressed  Women Protection Force”, which can be sent to such countries where the restrictions are imposed on liberty of  women that are enforced by law.  

Such a Women Protection Force may be authorized by the UN to enter such countries, where governments restrict women’s liberty by law and carry out sustained campaign for women liberty in the region. This Women Protection Force can considerably strengthen the women movement in these countries considerably.  

Of course, this  protection force will be an unarmed body and would be a moral force that cannot be ignored by the offending governments. This force would also represent the voice of the civilized community and bring enormous pressure on the offending  governments to mend their ways.

This suggestion of a Women Protection Force may sound whimsical, vague and impractical in the present scenario in the world. However, this idea does deserve to be developed, debated and fine tuned in a way that it can become a reality . 

It should be kept in mind that in the past such “impractical ideas” have gained acceptance due to the sustained efforts of right thinking individuals and positive campaigners.

N. S. Venkataraman

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

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