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Issues Facing the Women’s Movement

The following is an account of some of the issues that face Iranian women.994-women-p8
“…The world has been witness to immense technological development and progress in the 21st century. These developments have had profound effect on our way of living, working and on individuals’ social relations. The effect of these changes has been significant in communications too. In addition to new problems, today’s world has been faced with new possibilities too. In the field of communications, the reach of news has extended to the most isolated places, and this can lead to public opinion being mobilised around vital issues.
It would not be an exaggeration to say the in many arenas of life we women continue to face massive problems. This is cause for sadness and concern…”.
“Our country, Iran is one of the countries in which women have suffered serious damage due to the 37 years of rule by a misogynistic, reactionary and medievalist regime. Unfortunately, despite their admirable resistance, women have not succeeded in making noticeable gains against the regime’s policies…The problems that women face in the Islamic Republic are so varied and extensive that they impose a massive burden on women in our society.”
Recently, ShahinDokht Molaverdi the Vice President for Women and Family Affairs, announced (reported in Mehr News) that: “We have a village in [the South-Eastern province of] Sistan and Baluchestan [bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan] where all the men have been executed. Their heirs are potential drug dealers, both from the point of view of wanting to avenge the death of their fathers and in order to provide for their families. There is no support system for the [families of those executed].” Molaverdi also pointed out in another speech: “In some cases the family lived in an apartment, but this was sequestered. They were not concerned with what a woman would do with 3 children [and nowhere to live]. The executive power does not concern itself with this question at all.” What has been going on in Sistan and Baluchestan, and will undoubtedly continue to happen, is a form of persecution of the families, especially women, who must carry the burden of these policies.”
The response of the authorities was swift. 11 days after Molaverdi’s first comment, Zohreh Tabibzadeh (a member of the regime’s Women Socio-Cultural Council) declared: ‘it appears that the Vice president for Women and Family Affairs has made false remarks which all the officials of the Province of Sistan and Baluchestan have rejected. The Prosecutor of the province has brought charges against her. This shows that Mrs. Molaverdi does not have enough experience for such a prominent post and she does not know the right place for bringing up each subject”. Ms. Zohreh Tabibzadeh attacks Molaverdi for having made public such a catastrophe and accuses her of being inexperienced, in fact meaning that she should have known that she was supposed to cover up important social issues and to portray a made up mask of the “exemplary Islamic Rule”.
According to NewsOnline 24th February 2016, the man in charge of fighting drug offences has said: “in 2001 nearly 5% of addicts in Iran were women, in 2011 this figure reached 9%”. On the age of those addicted, he said: “during this period the age of addiction has not changed much, but we believe that as the rate of addiction rises the age of those addicted will drop, because the accumulation of this mobility is mainly in women, adolescents and the youth.” There are several issues that are important to note regarding statistics published by the Islamic Republic: firstly, the statistics are not collected accurately or scientifically; secondly, it is difficult to be confident about the statistics published; thirdly, even these incomplete, misquoted and insecure statistics show that in these arenas the situation has exacerbated each year, so much so that even the doctored statistics do not allow their denial”.
News Online reported Molaverdi to have said on 29th February: “In the last couple of years, worrying news has reached us on girls being married before reaching the legal age of consent, and age of marriage. We have even witnessed the marriage of children younger than 10 years.” In the same report, Online wrote of an event involving the wedding of young girls in the Province of Hormozgan (in South Iran): “Two weeks ago the city officials of the city of Paarsiaan in the Province of Hormozgan, organised the mass wedding of 50 schoolgirls… Azar Khosravani, the head of the Wedding Committee’s Women’s Affairs spoke proudly of the event and said that the ‘celebration’ was being held for the first time at the scale of the city in order to facilitate the wedding according to the Iranian-Islamic norms [!]”.
The marriage of young girls is not new, but it is promoted by the regime and this appalling practice has become a scourge of our society for decades. Different reasons that are given for this unacceptable practice, but one of the key reasons is the poverty of families. The other reason is that the governments, past and present did not tackle the issue seriously, and as seen above, they have even encouraged and facilitated it. This is no the first time that we witness the report of the marriage of underage children, but it is one of few occasions when they have taken place with the collaboration of the state. It will be possible at least to limit this appalling practice by raising public awareness against it.
On 13th February, Susan Bastani, the member of the scientific delegation of the University of AlZahra said: “In the last two decades, women’s attendance at universities have increased by 14%. Despite the increase in the share of women in education, their rate of unemployment has increased from standing at 29.5% in 2007 to 40% in 2011. Women’s economic contribution in public sector in the last two decades has dropped from 39.5% to 27%”. Bastani also declared that 80% of women have the role of housewife.
Cited in Nameh Mardom 07.03.2016
Part 2 of the article will be published in due course.
MaZanan 26.03.2016

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