Law and Iranian women

Many of us have a hint about life as a woman in Iran. It’s all over social media. To have a wider look at this matter, let’s go back to the sixth century B.C. It was all peaceful since women and men had equal rights. Matters got complicated after the revolution that brought Islam into Iran’s political arena, which was characterized by relative nonviolence, an exiled leader, and an unprecedented platform for governance.

By that time, many women’s rights were taken away from them. Even though Islam did not entirely agree with their wrongdoings, they insisted on using it to justify their customs and actions that took away women’s rights, such as their simple rights in wearing what they want, working, and attending schools. Iranian women had to fight for their rights.

Iranian law is biased against women. In Iran, a father is sentenced to nine years for beheading his 14-year-old daughter while a woman who uncovers her hair in public can be imprisoned for 20 years. Women’s subjugation in Iran had to change; many young girls lost their privileges and left dreaming of their liberation. In response, the first Iranian Women’s rights movement emerged after the Iranian constitutional revolution in 1910, the year in which the first Women Journal was published by women. The movement lasted until 1933, and the last women’s association was dissolved by the Reza Shah Pahlavi’s government.

The directors of “Jam’iat e nesvan e vatan-khah“, a women’s rights alliance in Tehran (1923-1933)

When the Shah family took control, and of course, after the oppression lasted for too long along, Iranian women were liberated. They were allowed to dress the way they want, attend schools, and many other advantages. The Iranian families were not ready for such change. It was like introducing a new technique of studying to a five-year-old. The change was so drastic that many traditional families did not cope with it.

In 1979, the government was overthrown and Khomeini -the new leader- took control and women’s oppression heightened again. He was like the evil side of Shah; he took away all women’s rights given by Shah. Iranian women experienced the radical Islamization of their country through laws regulating their attire. As an out-turn women were unable to exit their houses without being accompanied, unable to attend school, neither to work and were forced to wear the headscarf in public, some of these laws are still implemented today. Iranian women have worked for change and fought for their freedom even though they continue to face systematic, widespread legal discrimination.

During the Pahlavi monarchy from 1920 to 1979, women made significant progress in education, employment, and political participation. In 1935, the first group of women enrolled at Tehran University. In 1963, women obtained the right to vote, and in 1968, Iran appointed its first female minister of education. Nowadays, 60% of university students are female, and 97% of women are literate.

Unlike men, women never encountered the opportunity to complete their education and become journalists, doctors, lawyers, engineers, and artists. However, this is not reflected in equal representation in the workforce. Only 15.2% of Iranian women are employed, and their representation in political life is even less. There are currently only 17 female members in the Iranian Parliament elected in 2016. In the 1980 election, only 4 women were elected to the Islamic Republic’s first Majlis.

Hail and salute!

We all have to give admiration to the brave Woman from the PMOI/MEK and other organizations who were arrested! They were either executed or killed under vicious torture.  Fatemeh Mesbah, who was only 13, Homeira Eshraq, Sorayya Abolfat’hi, Simin Hojabr, and other women and girls. We hail and salute all of them.

When Fatemeh Mesbah was only three years old, her father was arrested by the Shah’s SAVAK. When she was nine years old, she began distributing flyers and participating in anti-Shah demonstrations.  As days and years passed, she chose a life of struggle. All her words will bespeak of her deep consciousness of the nature of the regime that awaited her in the struggle she had chosen. Before she was executed on September 17, 1981, her last words were, “I have chosen this tortuous path to fight against tyranny to the last drop of my blood…..I urge future generations to continue my path. Long live freedom.” May her beautiful soul rest in peace.

Fatemeh Mesbah and Mother zakeri

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