Oct 24, 2021
The topic of my presentation is: How women can align with other movements.
I would like to start with the definition of other movements in my motherland: Iran.
Women in Iran are considered secondhand citizens in all aspects of social life. Under the imposed laws by the Islamic Republic of Iran, women are deprived of basic human rights. They don’t have the right to choose what to wear. They must cover their entire body in public places. In addition, they must observe the strict rules of covering their hair, naming ‘hijab’. Women can not request divorce, even if their husbands are approved abusers. A divorcee woman can have custody of her children up to age 7. Older children’s custody belongs to men. There is no way a woman be elected as president, governor, cabinet member or any other high ranking government officials. The first phrase of the Islamic Republic’s constitution for presidency states: The president must be a Man. This statement resonates itself in selecting lower levels of the governing body of the country. Under the sharia lows, women are not allowed to sing. Female singers either must perform their arts underground or migrate to western countries. The current laws states that, female children’s heritage is half of male children. A married woman in Iran can not travel abroad without the written consent of her husband. Single women must obtain the written consent of their father to leave the country. In the absence of father, her brother or uncle or a male figure in the immediate family structure must give permission to her to leave the country. Women are not allowed to attend sport facilities as spectators. Female fans of popular sports such as football have to watch the games on TV and within the borders of their homes. Women in Iran are barred to study certain University subjects such as Veterinary Science, Animal husbandry, Geology, Natural resources, etc. If a man and a woman are arrested for engaging in extramarital affairs, the so called ‘punishment’ for the man is relatively short-term imprisonment or paying certain amount of money but for the woman the verdict is ‘Sangsar’: Death by stone throwing. I stop here but unfortunately; this list can go on and on and on.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has always proclaimed that the above-mentioned rules are in place to protect women from harm, from the evils of the society, lurking in the shadows, but reality tells us a different story. Sex trading business in Iran is booming. In every city of Iran, you could see an army of sex workers on the streets after sunset. According to the government officials, there are thousands of sex workers just in the capital city Tehran. Furthermore, according to the same officials, the average age of sex workers in Iran is 14. Every year, thousands of Iranian teens are traded for sex exploitation to the neighboring countries such as Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Iraq by bandits related in one way or another to the government officials. Worst of all, under the Islamic laws in Iran, men could freely enjoy the so-called short-term marriages as short as one hour, officially. Such engagements are called: Sigha which is basically a short-term marriage officiated by a clergy man. Women involved in such engagements have no marital rights whatsoever.
With so many anti-women laws, it’s not surprising that there are lots of feminist movements in Iran. In fact, the women struggle for achieving their basic rights is the only movement in Iran which started a day after the anti-monarchy revolution of 1979 and it has continued to today, strong and with roots in every single household in Iran.
The Left Party of Iran (People's Fadaian) recognizes the women movement and struggle. When we had the opportunity to be in Iran, we created parallel structures for feminist movements. We participated actively in women protests. We organized fundraising events for women in need. We established underground classes to teach women to learn reading and writing. We organized workshops to teach skills to women, so they could start their own business. We went to the farm country to teach women the basics of hygiene's, safe sex, the nature of male abuse behaviors, etc.
In exile, we have always supported any feminist protest in Iran. We have encouraged our sympathizers to actively be involved in such activities. We have tried to be the voice of speechless. The party has created an office with focus on feminist movements in Iran. In every single feminist protest outside of Iran, we have had strong involvement. On the international level, we have always supported global feminist movements such as equal payment for doing the same job, Texas women struggle for abortion rights, Women rights for obtaining driver license in Saudi Arabia, global Me-Too movement, and especially the support for brave women of Afghanistan protesting against Taliban on the streets of Kabul, Herat, Mezare-Sharif, and every other town in that part of the world.
Within the ranks of our party, we have tried several initiatives to empowering women’s roles. 30% quota of the central committee of our party must be women. The women’s office of our party exclusively focuses on women related issues, inside and outside of the party. Any verbal, physical, emotional abuse against women is fully investigated.
All that said, is our party perfect when it comes to women related issues? Of course not. There is always room for improvement. As a woman with more than four decades of struggle for women rights, I look forward to our party’s congress meeting on November 12-14 to raise issues with feministic nature.
Member of the Central Council and,
Co - Chair of International Committee of the Left Party of Iran (People’s Fadaian)
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