Islamic Republic and women's rights in Iran

The eighth of March marked International Women’s Day across the world, a significant and jubilant day, but Iranian women who have been victims of the Islamic regime have nothing to celebrate.

Prior to the Islamic revolution in 1979 in monarchical Iran, women had civil rights equal to those of men.  In fact, many women had ministerial responsibilities or held various positions in government, including parliamentarians, mayors, and even high-ranking military officers.  Many women were also university professors.  However, shortly after the Islamic regime’s establishment, all women were banned from their positions, and shamefully, several of them, including the minister of education, were publicly stoned to death in accordance with Islamic law.

Although some observers had expected a degree of moderation after Hassan Rouhani won the Islamic regime’s fabricated presidential election in 2013, nothing has changed.  Political opponents’ and non-Islamic believers’ executions by the Islamic regime have continued to mount.

Amnesty International, for the past 36 years, time and again has published reports on physical and psychological torture in Iran, saying that “the number of reports of torture and ill treatment … makes it clear that these violations of human rights are continuing, widespread and, in some places, systematic.”  Further, the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center recently announced (and was confirmed by Amnesty International) that more than 800 innocent Iranian men and women have been executed under fabricated charges of being the “enemy of God” in the second half of 2014 while the so-called moderate President Hassan Rouhani has been in office.  The Islamic regime’s clergy argue that the death penalty is the key to maintaining religious law and order.

According to the regime’s interpretation of Islamic practice, a 9-year-old girl can be married with the consent of only her father or grandfather, even if her mother disagrees.  Her husband may be an elderly man and may have three other “permanent” and as many “temporary” wives as he desires.  Her husband can divorce her at will, a decision she cannot dispute.  She can neither request any physical belongings nor visit any children she may have.  Women have been forced to abandon their right to divorce.  Custody of children, regardless of their ages, is always with the father.  The special court for family protection, which in the days of the late shah of Iran was an efficient legal alternative for women, has been abolished.  Iranian women have suffered loss of all rights they had under the monarchical administration.  The dark-age institutions of polygamy and temporary marriages have been reinstated.

The regime’s interpretation of the “Islamic code of dress” for women means that a woman appearing in public must either don the veil or a garment covering every part of her body but her hands.  The purpose is to make the outline of a woman’s body unrecognizable.  This code (Hijab) is being forcefully implemented, and civil servants who have not complied have been dismissed.  On the streets, many women’s faces have been permanently scarred by acid, thrown in their faces by Islamic fascist secret police for failing to adhere to this code.  Also, women who wear lipstick are detained and their mouths are lacerated using broken glass and blades.

An unmarried female applying for a position in a public administration job, including schoolteaching, must submit a medical document certifying her virginity.  Education in schools for girls has been reduced to moral teaching.  Girls are not allowed to play in the school courtyard even during recess since a male neighbor may look on.  In any gathering at colleges and universities, female students must be seated in the back of lecture halls.  Curtains often divide lecture rooms.  A female student must pose her question to an instructor in writing so as not to be heard by male students or male instructors, who Islamic clerics fear may be excited by the voices of female students.  Article 5 of the Penal Code specifies that women are banned from wearing perfume or shaking hands with males.  According to the Islamic regime’s religious guides, even the sound of high-heeled shoes is sufficient to arouse males.

The large majority of Iranians have recognized that the resolution of the country’s serious social, political, and economic problems is clearly beyond the competence of the theocratic regime.  The clerical dictators who rule Iran today do not include “moderate” people.  There is no moderation in the application of a “law of vengeance.”  There is no moderation in the separation of men and women or in the gross domination of men over women.  There is no moderation in denying Iranians their national heritage – art, poetry, music, and literature.  And there is no moderation in teaching children that one is born in order to look for a “martyrdom.”

In the name of purifying the country of Western ideas, including equal rights for men and women, the Islamic regime has forced practice of Islamic laws for all citizens of all ages.  The truth is that the Islamic rulers in Iran do not belong to this age and cannot deal with the realities of the modern world and democracy.  Moreover, they believe that after 36 years of mismanagement, corruption, and brutality, the only way they can extend their rule is by increasing terrorization of their critics. 

If there is one thing that truly distinguishes the United States as a great country, it is the profound respect it has for human rights and decency.  How can America reject the behavior of Nazi rulers, Pol Pot’s “Killing Fields,” and ISIS’s barbarism, yet still believe it can establish a lasting line of communication with a regime that routinely persecutes religious minorities, tortures and executes thousands of political prisoners, teaches schoolchildren to spy on their parents, and promotes international terrorism?  Would America’s conscience accept a relationship with such a monstrous regime? 

Is it not time to mobilize universal international shame?  Is it not time for the free world to disconnect all unnecessary diplomatic relationships with the Islamic regime?  Is it not time for the peace-loving nations to support the Iranian people and the exiled movement overseas in their struggle against this evil stone-age regime?               

Mansour Kashfi, Ph.D. is president of Kashex International Petroleum Consulting and is a college professor in Dallas, TX.  He is also author of more than 100 articles and books about petroleum industry worldwide.

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