Letter to Christiane Amanpour
by Parvin Darabi
Republished: November 24, 2006
to Ms. Amanpour. "Iranian Women are better off today"
On Monday, March 12 the Society of Iranian Professionals in San
Jose had sponsored a meeting with Ms. Amanpour, the famous CNN Foreign
Correspondent Reporter. The meeting was quite informative and I
enjoyed having been under the same roof with such a group of professional
Iranians. During the question and answer period, I asked Ms. Amanpour
the following question "why she compared Iranian women with
women in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and such in her documentaries
about Iran. I told her that when I was growing up in Tehran in the
50¹s and prior to my departure to America in 1964 no one dared
to compare women in Iran with the women in Saudi Arabia?" Because
at that time the Iranian women advancements in our society was so
far and superior that we were compared to most advanced Western
interrupted my question and stated that since the Revolution in
1979 things have improved quite a bit for the Iranian Women as a
whole. She explained that prior to the revolution the traditional
Iranian women stayed at home. Today they are out and demanding their
rights. She continued by saying that the Islamic revolution was
the best thing that could happen to the Iranian women. They have
lost their legal rights however, they are gaining grounds and are
voting and getting elected to the office. She also stated that the
Iranian women do not mind the hijab and they are making head ways
in gaining back some legal rights under the frame work of the Islamic
Republic. In addition she used herself as an example of a woman
who would not have considered pursuing a career in journalism had
it not been for the Islamic revolution which forced her to leave
Iran and come to the United States of America. She also mentioned
that in her documentary on Iran aired last year she was a bit too
optimistic about Khatami and what he was able to do for Iran and
from her presentation and her answers to the questions that it was
OK for the modern Iranian women such as my sister Dr. Homa Darabi
and hundreds of educated and accomplished women of the pre-revolution
time to be sacrificed in order to emancipate the traditional Iranian
women. And I gathered that in her opinion Iranian women are better
off today than in the period prior to the revolution.
Although I admire
and respect such women as you for your accomplishments and believe
that you are among the icons in our global society. However, I find
your logic absolutely preposterous and without merit. To state that
it was worthwhile to sacrifice women such as Dr. Farokh Roo Parsa,
the first female Secretary of Education, Dr. Homa Darabi, the first
Iranian to be accepted to the United States Board of Psychiatry
and Neurology; and to imprison women such as Mehrangiz Kar, Shala
Lahigi, Shirin Ebadi, and to stab to death women such as Parvaneh
Skandary-Forohar and hundreds of young women to emancipate traditional
women like Azam Taleghani is beyond my comprehension.
The women that
this Islamic revolution sacrificed were icons just as Ms. Amanpour
in their own professions and it took years of hard work and sweat
and tear for them to become who they were. How dare can anyone say
that it was worthwhile to loose them and gain what? What has the
Islamic Republic brought us except shame, fear, poverty, isolation
and .? Why should we want to have women such as shameless
Azam Taleghani¹s to be leaders of Iranian women? In her interview
with the Marie Claire Magazine, in the article "Tradition or
outrage" Azam Taleghani states that " If my own daughter
committed adultery, I would support death by stoning for her. The
law is the law."
In the 20 years
prior to the revolution of 1979 Iranian women gained incredible
amount of freedom and power. We gained the right to vote in 1963.
The family protection act went into effect in 1964. The polygamy
was outlawed and Iranian women were given the right to divorce,
get the custody of their children, travel without any restriction
from their husbands or fathers and they were involved in all aspect
of our society. Above all we had the freedom to choose what to wear
in public, what fields of study to pursue and we could go abroad
for higher education.
By 1978, 33%
of university students were female with 2 million in the workforce.
190,000 were professionals with university degrees. There were 333
women in the local councils, 22 in Majlis and 2 in the Senate.
Women were singers,
dancers, musicians, performers, lawyers and judges. Such professions
are denied women under the rules of the Islamic Republic. In the
pre-revolution times women could be witnesses in the court of law
and the testimony of one woman was equal to that of one man. And
if we were harmed or lost our lives we or our families were compensated
based on our worth and not that of cows and camels, as is the practice
under the Islamic laws. And never our life and livelihood was equal
to one half of our male counter parts. Was it really worthwhile
to loose all those rights so that the traditional women could be
able to vote?!!!
beating, acid throwing, mutilating and hanging in public was considered
barbaric and to my knowledge was never done to women. And no mother
in Iran was proud to stone her daughter to death as the case of
to vote on? Who to vote for? The ratification of the Islamic laws
that are barbaric and oppose to the basic human rights! Or to elect
the people who must be certified by an Islamic committee comprised
of group of outdated and fundamentalist Ayatollahs!!
Ms. Amanpour don¹t tell me that it is not Khatami, but the
Islamic Republic¹s constitution that has closed 35 newspapers
and magazines and has imprisoned all the reporters, journalists,
and editors. Khatami has the power to provoke the people of Iran
into a mass strike against the foundation of the Islamic Republic.
Wasn¹t Khatami elected by over 80% of the voting population?
Didn¹t he have the support of over 22 million Iranian women
and young men? Why doesn¹t he take advantage of his power and
order a peaceful strike against Khamnenei and his people?
He keeps talking
about dialogue among civilizations. Don¹t you think it is time
for him and his Mullah friends to become civilized? You know why?
Ms. Amanpour because he, himself is a Mullah and a Muslim and there
is no such a thing as a moderate Moslem. Islam means submission
and one either submits or gets killed in the Islamic Republic of
Iran. I have not found anyone who can define "moderate submission."
Under the Shah
we had personal freedom and not political freedom. Under the Islamic
Republic we have lost both. I also don¹t know what Iranian
woman told you that she does not mind the hijab. Perhaps you did
not ask the question from a broad sample of women in Iran to validate
your assumption. My sister burned herself to death in the public
square because she did not want to wear the hijab. Her last cries
were "death to tyranny, long live freedom, long live Iran."
I hope you will read the book, "Rage Against the Veil"
I presented you to understand how much better off we Iranian women
were prior to the 1979 revolution and what we have to do to become
an equal part of the Iranian society.
let my mind go wild and I think what would we, Iranians, be today
if there was not this revolution and would allow the progress to
take its course. If we had not had the revolution we would not have
had the Iran/Iraq war and so many of our youth would not have died.
All the women I mentioned above would have kept contributing to
the wellbeing of our nation. I am positive that the exchange rate
would have been lowered to perhaps 20 Rials/Dollar instead of 8,500
Rials/Dollar. Our population had not doubled in size and unemployment
rate would have been a lot closer to 5% than the 35%. Mandatory
primary and secondary education would have raised the knowledge
base in our homeland. Foreign investment, tourism and expansion
of industry would have brought such prosperity to our homeland that
we would have all been home and you would have enlightened us with
your talk in Tehran and would have been introduced by an Iranian
colleague. And the society of Iranian professionals would have invited
you to the historical Talar-e-Rodaki. One more thing, I believe
revolution or no revolution you would have become who you are just
as I did due to our inherent will and determination to succeed.
I believe the
revolution of 1979 was a mistake since it gave the power to the
religious fundamentalist and it was not properly planned and correctly
organized. That is perhaps why the Iranian people are not in favor
of another revolution until such time they can properly define the
democratic form of government they wish to have, a government that
would give them life, liberty and the pursuit of their happiness.
These are my thoughts.