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Iran: Islam as an Excuse for Misogyny Continues Unabatted

From the Women’s Forum Against Fundamentalism in Iran (WFAFI):

January 16th, 2008


RFE/RL - December 15, 2007 Iranians have been informed about the police operation through an advertising campaign on radio and television. Billboards dot the streets warning women to dress properly. But it is the first time police have launched a winter crackdown on what is called “lax dressing” or noncompliance with Iran’s strict Islamic dress code. The crackdown has been gaining in intensity under President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, and hit a new peak this past summer. But the “morality police” have traditionally targeted women whose small head scarves reveal a portion of their hair or pants that do not cover their ankles. Such women are given a warning and forced to write a pledge that they will no longer dress “immodestly.” The police sometimes fine or briefly arrest those who argue with them.

Agance France Presse - December 16, 2007 Iran has charged two women’s rights activists with taking part in “terrorist” actions and belonging to a militant Kurdish separatist group, an investigating judge said on Sunday. Ronak Safarzadeh and Hana Abdi were “arrested for acting against national security by taking part in attacks in Sanandaj and for being members of the militant group PJAK,” the official IRNA agency quoted the judge as saying. The judge, whose name was not reported, said that the two women were using their activities as women’s rights activists as cover for their connections to the separatist militants.”Counter-revolutionary groups use civic groups to carry out terrorist actions,” he said. The two women were part of a nationwide campaign in Iran to collect a million signatures in favour of changing laws in the Islamic republic which are seen as discriminating against women.

Human Rights Watch - December 17, 2007 Iran should drop politically motivated charges against two women’s rights activists facing trial this week because of their participation in a peaceful protest, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should release Jelveh Javahari and Maryam Hosseinkhah without delay. Human Rights Watch learned that court officials have set court dates of December 18 and 19 to try Javaheri and Hosseinkhah on charges stemming from their involvement in a March 4 peaceful gathering to protest the prosecution of other women’s rights activists.They were among 26 women arrested at that time and released from detention over the following weeks. However, authorities have been holding Hosseinkhah and Javeheri in Unit 3 of the general women’s ward of Evin prison since November 17 and December 1, respectively, on separate charges relating to their peaceful activities on behalf of the One Million Signatures Campaign to End Discrimination Against Women. “There seems to be no end in sight to the Iranian government’s persecution of women’s rights activists,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “They are bringing new charges against women faster than they can try them.”

Reuters News Agency - December 17, 2007 An Iranian court has jailed nine teachers for 91 days on charges of disturbing public opinion by encouraging colleagues to stage illegal protests, an Iranian daily reported on Monday. Seda-ye Edalat (The Voice of Justice) said the sentences were handed down in the western city of Hamedan. The teachers were arrested during the Iranian month starting in late March, when the newspaper said they spent nine days in solitary confinement. Some teachers have staged protests in Tehran and elsewhere over the past year demanding better pay and conditions. Many of them make the equivalent of a few hundred U.S. dollars per month and have seen their real wages eroded by double-digit inflation.

Associated Press - December 18, 2007 The U.N. General Assembly committee approved a draft resolution Tuesday expressing «deep concern» at the systematic human rights violations in Iran, including torture, flogging, amputations, stoning and public executions.The 192-member world body adopted the resolution by a vote of 73-53 with 55 abstentions.The resolution is not legally binding but carries moral weight and reflects the majority view of world opinion.The resolution expresses «very serious concern» that despite previous assembly resolutions on human rights in Iran, there have been «confirmed instances» of violations including the use of stoning as a method of execution, «torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including flogging and amputations,» and multiple public executions. It also expresses «very serious concern» at the arrest and violent represssion of women exercising their right to peaceful assembly and increasing discrimination against people belonging to religious, ethnic, linguistic and other minorities, especially members of the Bahai faith.It also calls on Iran to abolish public executions and stoning and «to end the harassment, intimidation and persecution of political opponents and human rights defenders, including by releasing persons imprisoned arbitrarily or on the basis of their political views.

AKI Italian News - December 19, 2007 A top Muslim cleric in Iran, Hojatolislam Gholam Reza Hassani said on Wednesday that women in Iran who do not wear the hijab or Muslim headscarf, should die. “Women who do not respect the hijab and their husbands deserve to die,” said Hassani, who leads Friday prayers in the city of Urumieh, in Iranian Azerbaijan. “I do not understand how these women who do not respect the hijab, 28 years after the birth of the Islamic Republic, are still alive,” he said. “These women and their husbands and their fathers must die,” said Hassani, who is the representative of the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei in eastern Azerbaijan. Hassani’s statements came after two Kurdish feminists in Iran were accused of being members of an armed rebel group and of carrying out subversive activities threatening the security of the state. It is believed that his statements and the arrests could spark a fresh crackdown on women who do not respect the Islamic dress code in Iran. Thousands of women in Iran have already been warned this year for their “un-Islamic dress” such as wearing tight, short coats and skimpy headscarves.

Reuters News Agency - December 24, 2007 Iranian police detained 28 young men and women wearing “inappropriate and repulsive” clothing and confiscated alcohol at a party in a northeastern city, an Iranian news agency reported on Monday. Mingling between sexes outside marriage is banned in Iran, which has stepped up a campaign this year against fashion and other practices deemed incompatible with Islamic values, including women flouting strict dress codes. Local police commander Farajollah Vafadar said 10 liters of alcohol, also illegal in the Islamic Republic, were seized in the raid in the city of Shahrud, the Fars News Agency said, without saying when it happened. “The police officers arrested 18 girls and 10 boys with inappropriate and repulsive clothing in the house,” he said. “A file was opened for the arrested individuals and their case was referred to the Shahrud judiciary to take its legal procedure,” Vafadar said.

Agance France Presse - January 2, 2008 Iran hanged 13 on Wednesday, including the mother of two young children who had been found guilty of murdering her husband after discovering he was having an affair, reports said. Raheleh Zamani, who reportedly chopped her husband’s body into pieces, was hanged alongside seven men convicted of murder, in a mass execution at Tehran’s Evin prison, the Iranian Student Correspondents’ Association (ISCA) reported. Three drug traffickers were also hanged on Wednesday in public in a square in the central city of Qom and another two in the eastern city of Zahedan, state media reported. Pictures from Qom showed the three blindfolded men, their bodies hanging limply from nooses attached to cranes as dusk fell, the winter snow falling heavily. The hangings, the first reported in 2008, were the latest in a growing number of executions in the Islamic republic as the authorities impose a drive they say is aimed at improving security in society. Etemad newspaper reported on December 17 that Raheleh was the mother of a five-year-old girl and a three-year- old boy and had begged for forgiveness from the victim’s family. “My husband was having an affair with another woman and I was under the influence of the pills I took,” ISCA quoted Raheleh as saying during her trial. Raheleh had been due to be hanged on December 19, but was given a last-minute stay of execution to allow her more time to reach a settlement with her in-laws, reports at the time said. Under Iranian law, a victim’s family can ask right up to the moment before an execution that a murderer’s life be spared and blood money be paid instead.

Amnesty International - January 15, 2008 As nine women and two men in Iran wait to be stoned to death, Amnesty International today called on the Iranian authorities to abolish execution by stoning and impose an immediate moratorium on this horrific practice, specifically designed to increase the suffering of the victims. In a new report published today, “Iran: Death by stoning, a grotesque and unacceptable penalty,” the organization called on the authorities urgently to repeal or amend the country’s Penal Code…The majority of those sentenced to death by stoning are women. Women suffer disproportionately from such punishment. One reason is that they are not treated equally before the law and courts, in clear violation of international fair trial standards. They are particularly vulnerable to unfair trials because they are more likely than men to be illiterate and therefore more likely to sign confessions to crimes they did not commit. Discrimination against women in other aspects of their lives also leaves them more susceptible to conviction for adultery.

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