ISSN 2330-717X

Iranian Women Are Relentless Despite Despite Four Decades Of Suppression – OpEd

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The 1979 anti-monarchy revolution in Iran created a sense of participation among men and women from all classes. In the marches that led to the revolution, there were professional Iranian women with no hijab or scarves and women from traditional backgrounds wearing the traditional black veil; there were women from lower and middle-class families, accompanied by their spouses and children. All these women walked shoulder to shoulder together, hoping that the revolution would bring them an improvement in their economic and social status and political freedom.

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The 1979 revolution brought out large masses of Iranian women who were demonstrating for the abolition of the monarchy and for an Islamic republic. They believed that an Islamic republic would give them equality, removing all existing obstacles to the participation of women in the affairs of their country. In the excitement of the revolution and hopes for change, less attention was paid to what the founder and leader of the regime, Khomeini was saying while staying in Paris. In Khomeini’s words, women would have a role in society but within an “Islamic” framework. Trusting him as a man of promises and hope, nobody bothered in those days to ask, “What does the Islamic framework mean?” and “how is it implemented in the society?”

In the first years after the 1979 revolution, Khomeini’s insistence on keeping women away from active participation in the political, social, and economic aspects of society, eventually led to the imposition of the hijab on Iranian women and forced many to become housewives. In fact, many women were excluded from various fields of work. In the following decades, various policies were pursued by the Islamic Republic imposing an array of restrictions on the women of Iran.

One of the so-called “revolutionary” government’s first acts was to suspend the Family Protection Law and dismantle Family Courts. Men were once again free to divorce their wives by simple declaration; they also gained exclusive custody of their children. Women could no longer file for divorce unless the right was stipulated in marriage contracts, and they lost the right to child custody. In 1981, Iran’s parliament approved the Islamic Law of Retribution, introducing flogging, stoning, and payment of blood money for crimes ranging from adultery to violation of the Islamic dress codes.

The marriage age for girls was reduced to puberty, which is nine under Islamic law. By law, a girl as young as 13 years can marry, while girls even younger can legally marry with judicial and paternal consent. In the first half of 2021, over 16,000 girls aged between 10 and 14 years have married, according to official government figures.

On November 16, 2021, UN human rights experts called on Iran to repeal a wide-ranging new law that severely restricts access to abortion, contraception, voluntary sterilization services, and related information, in direct violation of women’s human rights under international law.

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Regime introduces two new organizations to impose hijab on Iranian women

Now, in June 2022, the regime has announced the establishment of two new repressive organizations to “control the lack of hijab”. The mandate of these new entities of suppression is being completed and its policies are going to be dictated to 120 government offices. Each office is obliged to manifest ways to implement these restrictive policies on its female employees.

In 2020, Fars News Agency named 25 government agencies that are active in the field of imposing and propagating the hijab. Other media outlets later named other institutions; So much so that this year, the Red Crescent also announced its voluntary activities with the same goals. It was in April 2022 that the Secretary-General of the Red Crescent Society announced his entry into the field of “promoting hijab and chastity”. According to him, this is in line with their humanitarian and relief services.

Iranian women as relentless as ever

The story of Iranian women is the story of heroism, sacrifices, resistance, integrity, hope, and optimism. Today, tens of thousands of courageous female political prisoners, human rights activists, and brave Iranian girls have joined their fellow men to reject brutality and demand freedom in Iran. Iranian women are at the forefront of most social demonstrations and protests throughout Iran. The regime in Tehran is fearful of the hidden potential of Iranian women, who are braver and more determined than ever. They have become a weapon against the tyrannical regime in Tehran.

I end this piece with a poem by renowned Iranian poet, Simin Behbahani, that I think best captures the sentiments of Iranian women.

“You want to erase my being, but in this land, I remain

I will continue to dance as long as I sustain

I speak, as long as I am living: fury, roar, and revolt

Your stones, and rocks, I fear not. I’m a flood, my flow you cannot halt.”

Iran News Wire

Iran News Wire is home to real news on Iran. We are dedicated to honest and reliable reporting. We aim to be the voice of the Iranian people and their protests for freedom and democracy at a time when the Iranian government wants to silence dissent and suppress their voices for democracy

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