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Back to index   The Value and The Present Situation of Women,
in Islamic Republic of Iran
 

The Value and The Present Situation of Women in Islamic Republic of Iran
Dr. Parvin Darabi
Homa@homa.org
March 12, 2008

When the Islamic Republic was established in Iran in 1979, the country experienced a dramatic return to the dark ages. Women were the first victims of the regression. More than 130 years of struggle was repudiated by the medieval religious rulers.

On March 1979, Khomeini employed the hijab as a symbol of struggle against imperialism and corruption. He declared that "women should not enter the ministries of the Islamic Republic bare-headed. They may keep on working provided that they wear the hijab."

In 1980, Khomeini declared that, "from now on women have no right to be present in the governmental administration NAKED. They can carry on their tasks, provided they use the Islamic dress."

Women did not remain silent. They launched campaigns in the major cities of the country. In the Summer 1981, however, wearing the Islamic outfit in the government offices and ministries became mandatory.
Once more, women marched in protest. This time, however, the Islamic Republic was well established and the media were fully under its control. The Revolutionary Council threatened those women who ignored the Islamic outfit with dismissal.

Dress Code

In 1981, women's "Freedom of Dress" of 1926 was declared as null and void. Based on the writings of Koran, the Sura of Lights, God apparently told Prophet Mohammed that, "Prophet, tell your wives (he had somewhere between 16 to 25 wives most of them forty plus years his junior), daughters, and other women who believe in me to conceal their eyes and their treasures from the sight of strangers".

The problem in the Islamic world, however, is to know how far a woman should be dressed to conceal her treasures. According to the Mullah's, "the limit has also been set by God. Therefore, the Litham should rise to the chin and only the outline of the face may be seen. The body should be covered to the wrists. Thus Chador is a perfect outfit."

For most women, especially the professional ones, however this kind of treasures concealing is quite cumbersome and uncomfortable. Women who do not conceal their hair or expose their feet and those who seem to be wearing a veil but actually do so negligently, should be severely punished, per order of the present government.

The government of clergy believes that, "women who do not comply with the strict rules of hijab promote a contemptuous attitude towards themselves becoming mere objects for men's pleasure. Moreover, such conduct causes a drop in the marriage rate. A woman with a pleasant appearance hinders other girls from finding a husband. It also makes the selection difficult for men. They will constantly think of a model who is beyond everybody."

The Ministry of Education specifies the color and the style of the suited clothing for the girl students (black, straight and covered from head to toe for children as young as 6 years of age). And the Ministry of Guidance sets the rules of clothing for older women (only black, brown and dark blue -Islamic colors- are allowed. Bright colors, especially red are prohibited).

It has been reported that on August 15, 1991, the Prosecutor-General, Abolfazl Musavi-Tabrizi, said that "anyone who rejects the principle of hijab in Iran is an apostate and the punishment for an apostate under Islamic-law is death."

To suppress the refractory women, the government set up special units. Revolutionary Guards patrol the streets and arrest any woman not observing the Islamic hijab.

Education

"The specific task of women in this society is to marry and bear children. They will be discouraged from entering legislative, judicial, or what ever careers which may require decision making, as women lack the intellectual ability and discerning judgment required for theses careers."
Ayatollah Mutahari (one of the principal ideologues of the Islamic Republic of Iran)

The Islamic Law bans women from becoming judges. In Article 163 of The Islamic Constitution where the qualifications for becoming a judge is decided according to the religious measures, women have been specified as unqualified for the job.

At the time (beginning of the revolution), women were banned from studies such as engineering, agriculture, archaeology, restoration of the historic monuments and handicrafts, and many other fields.

Khomeini was stressing over and over that, "All our societies' miseries come from universities." He also has said that "Economy is a matter of donkeys" and "War is a blessing".

Marriage

Under the Islamic Rules, the family protection law has been abrogated. The Islamic Republic resolutely supports the practice of polygamy.

Under the Islamic Republic, provisional marriage was sanctioned. Consequently, a man may marry "four Permanent" and as many "Provisional" wives as he desires.

The marriage age for girls was reduced to 13 and with the father's consent, a girl may marry at the age of nine. No restriction on the age of the man. In recent years the marriage age for women has been reduced to 9 years of age.

"The most suitable time for a girl to get married is the time when the girl can have her first menstrual period in her husband's house rather than her father's."
Ayatollah Khomeini

Iranian women are prevented to marry foreigners unless they obtain a written permission from the Ministry of Interior. The Ministry of Interior's Director General for the Affairs of Foreign Citizens and Immigrants, Ahmad Hosseini, stated on 30 March 1991: "Marriages between Iranian women and foreign men will create many problems for these women and their children in future, because the marriages are not legally recognized. Religious registrations of such marriages will not be considered as sufficient documentation to provide legal services to these families."

Divorce

The Unilateral rights to divorce was re-established. Therefore, a husband may divorce his wife without her knowledge. It is absolutely lawful for a woman to receive her divorce deed with no prior consultation.

According to the Islamic Republic's Canon Law, divorce is an indisputable right of men, unless otherwise is stated in the act of marriage.

Custody of Children

Women can not have the custody of their children unless there is no male relative in the father's family. In case of dissolution of marriage, a mother's right of custody over her children is limited to the son up to 2 years of age and to the daughter under 7 years, even when the father has died. At the end of this "legal" period the child should be returned to the father with no visitation rights for the mother. If the father is dead, the children must be handed over to the father's family.

The Law of Retribution

According to clauses 33 and 91 of the law in respect, Qasas (The Islamic Retribution Bill) and its boundaries, the value of woman witness is considered only half as much as of a man.

According to the Islamic Penal Law, which is being practiced by the present regime of Iran, "a woman is worth half of a man."

According to the old Islamic laws, practiced by the Islamic Republic of Iran, the worth of a man's life is equal to100 camels or 200 cows and that of a woman is equal to half of the man's, 50 camels or 100 cows.

The clause number 6 regarding the Dieh (cash value of the fine) states that the cash fine for murdering a woman intentionally or unintentionally is half as much as for a man. The same clause adds that if a man intentionally murders a woman and the guardian of the woman himself is not able to pay half of the Dieh (the value of 50 camels or 100 cows, the difference between the value of a man to that of a woman's life) to the murderer, the murderer will be exempted from retribution.

Personal Rights

Women inherit only half as much as their male siblings.

In accordance with a draft resolution presented to the Majlis (The Islamic Parliament) in May 1991, unmarried women and girls will not be allowed to leave the country. Although at present there are no laws, forbidding girls from leaving the country, authorities, in practice, create many obstacles for those who wish to leave. The authorities are allegedly in particular severe with those unmarried women and girls who have won scholarships to study abroad.

A married woman cannot travel, work, join organizations, go to college, even visit her friends and relatives without her husband's permission. Married women are not allowed to travel abroad without presenting a written permission from their husbands to the authorities.

A woman should dwell where her husband desires.

A married woman should always and unconditionally be ready to meet her husband's sexual needs and if she refuses, she loses all rights of shelter, food, clothing etc.

"A married woman should endure any violence or torture imposed on her by her husband for she is fully at his disposal. Without his permission she may not leave her house even for a good action (such as charitable work). Otherwise her prayers and devotions will not be accepted by God and curses of heaven and earth will fall upon her."
Hojatoleslam Imani, Religious Leader

Punishment

A couple of weeks following Dr. Homa Darabi's self-immolation, a young woman was stoned to death in the city of Qom in front of her husband and her two small children. Her guilt was adultery, even though no man was found to have had a relation with her. She did not receive any trial and was not allowed to have an attorney. A Mullah convicted her in less than sixty seconds and the stoning took place the next day. Her head was shaven and she was buried in mud up to her shoulders. Reported by Iranian Radio News.

Stoning

According to the article 115 of Penal laws in the Islamic Republic on stoning, if the person condemned to stoning, flees from the hole where he or she has been buried in, down to the waist, he or she should be returned and the punishment should be carried out. But if the person confesses to the fornication and the escape takes place after the first stone was thrown, the person must be left alone unharmed.

Article 116 of Penal laws in the Islamic Republic on stoning, says that the stones used in stoning should neither be big as to kill the convict at the first or second blow, nor as small as a pebble.

Female Political Prisoners

Under the Islamic Republic, most of the female political prisoners are charged with waging war against God. Thus, according to the Islamic Officials they are war prisoners and may be considered as the slaves of the Islamic Warriors. Consequently, the guardians of the revolution, namely the Pasdars, may treat them as they like. Each woman in the prison belongs to one guard. He may lawfully consider his slave as a concubine and force her into sexual intercourse or inflict other tortures on her.

In his 1992 report, the United Nation’s Special Representative, Commission on Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, writes that, "requests made by the victims from their parents to supply them with contraceptives and the silence of the Islamic officials who have refused to deny the above charges are alarming clues which confirms such allegations."

Girls condemned to death may not undergo the sentence as long as they are virgins. Thus they are systematically raped before the sentence is executed.

To rape women prisoners, especially virgin girls, who are accused of being against the regime, is a normal and daily practice in the Islamic Republic's prisons, and by doing so, the clergies declare that they adhere to the merits of the Islamic principles and laws, preventing a virgin girl to go to heaven. Mullahs believe that these are ungodly creatures and they do not deserve the heaven, therefore they are raped to make sure that they will end up in hell.

Despite the fact that all Conventions and agreed covenants of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights have to be strictly observed by the member states, the Islamic republic of Iran's Constitution mentions nothing about the equality of men and women. The Article 19 of the Islamic Constitution concerning the equality of people is quite silent where the sex is concerned.

Female Executions

The latest reports published by various international organizations such as Amnesty International and the United Nation's Human Rights Commission give a clear picture of the circumstances that Iranian women are suffering under. They are denied the most basic human rights.

Thousands and thousands of women have been imprisoned, raped, flogged, shot, hanged, or stoned to death, mostly under false accusations and all has been done under the name of God and apparently in accordance with the Islamic judicial system.

According to the report published by the Organization of Women Against Execution in Iran, the number of women executed from 1981 through 1990, exceeds a few thousands. The Organization has been able to prepare a list containing 1,428 names. Some of the data were gathered through the official channels and some from the relatives of the victims. According to this report out of 1,428 women executed, 187 were under the age of 18, with 9 girls under the age of 13, 32 women were pregnant, and 14 were between the ages of 45 to 72 at the time of their execution. The youngest girl executed was 10 years and the oldest was 70 years of age.

On his last visit to Iran, in 1991, Professor Reynaldo Galinde Pohl, Special Representative of the United Nation's Human Rights Commission, interviewed the Islamic Republic's Minister of Justice, Mr. Hojatoleslam Esmail Shoushtari:

"Referring to the penalties of amputation and stoning, he (The Minister) indicated that Iran's system of government was Islamic, thus Islamic laws were enforced and some penalties could not be changed. Murder, for example, was punished by the death penalty, and that rule could not be changed; however, judges were empowered to negotiate with the victims' relatives to replace the death penalty by another, and that did happen in 95 per cent of cases. Theft was punished by amputation, and adultery by stoning (to death). Those penalties could not be changed, because they were punishments especially established under Islam."

All the authoritative international documentation and testimony gathered in the last 29 years of the life of the Islamic Regime in Iran is full of unceasing, systematic brutality, and oppression of masses, especially women.

Professional Aspirations

Women are also denied any political, spiritual or leadership aspirations in Iran. Article 115 of the Islamic Constitution clearly states that the president of the country should be elected a Man out of all God-fearing and dedicated men. This brings the conception that a woman can neither be president nor possess the rank of Velayat-e Faqih (the religious spiritual leader) or the position of leader of a Shi'a Muslim nation.

Marching Backward

With the establishment of the Islamic Republic, Iranian women have lost all the 'Rights' they had fought for and achieved in the past 130 years. They are socially segregated, and reduced to lower individuals and second-rank citizens.

Hashemi Rafsanjani, the Ex President of the Islamic Republic, of Iran recently discovered the difference between men and women. In his quote, he says:

"Equality does not take precedence over justice. Justice does not mean that all laws must be the same for men and women. One of the mistakes the Westerners make is to forget this. The difference in the stature, vitality, voice, development, muscular quality and physical strength of men and women shows that men are stronger and more capable in all fields. Men's brains are bigger so men are more inclined to fight and women are more excitable. Men are inclined to reasoning and rationalism, while women have a fundamental tendency to be emotional. The tendency to protect is stronger in men, where as most women like to be protected. Such differences affect the delegation of responsibilities, duties and rights."

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