International women’s day in Iran

by Ingrid Robeyns on March 7, 2007

Tomorrow is international women’s day, and in the past days the Iranian regime has, once again, shown its oppressive face towards grassroots women’s organisations who were peacefully demonstrating for their rights. On Sunday at least 31 women were illegally arrested during a peaceful gathering in front of the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Tehran. They were demonstrating in solidarity with women’s rights activists who had organised a peaceful demonstration on June 12, 2006, which was brutally ended by the police, and who had to appear before court last Sunday. They were also protesting the increasing oppression and criminalisation of the non-violent Iranian women’s movement, who has launched the one million signatures campaign to educate citizens about gender-discriminatory laws, and who are collecting signatures to demand an end to such discriminatory legislation. The correspondent for a Dutch newspaper was also arrested, but quickly released. Yesterday some women were released, but there are also reports that others were beaten and are in a bad condition. The 24 remaining women have started a hunger strike to protest their illegal confinement.

The courage of these Iranian women is truly amazing. The current arrests once again show that the regime will do everything it can to intimidate and obstruct this grassroots movement, as this brave article clearly describes, from closing down the first website of the One Million Signatures Campaign (though the women quickly launched a new website), to intimidating women who are housing seminars, instructing parents to warn their daughters, and now the arrest of many leaders of the women’s movement.

One plausible explanation for the upsurge in violence against the leaders of the women’s movement is to prevent them from organising any kind of protest tomorrow at international women’s day. So through informal international networks Iranian women have therefore called upon women’s movements worldwide to show their solidarity with the Iranian struggles for legal equality. One thing we can do is to let the Iranian regime know that we are informing ourselves, that newspapers internationally are writing about the oppression of Iranian women, that we are reading the websites of the Iranian women’s movements, and signing their petition to demand the release of the arrested women.

If the Iranian regime tries to make it impossible for Iranian women to mark international women’s day, let’s mark it, not just for ourselves, but for them too.

{ 43 comments }

1

abb1 03.07.07 at 3:04 pm

Why do they want a ban on polygamy (in the BBC link)?

It seems that those women who like polygamy should be able to have it, and the rest of them only benefit from it. I mean, I can understand why men might not like polygamy – when some men have several wives, some other men are bound to end up without a single one; but how is this a women’s issue. Is this because the arrangement with one wife-many husbands (forgot the word for it) is not allowed?

2

Nick L 03.07.07 at 3:18 pm

Why do they want a ban on polygamy (in the BBC link)?

Probably because when and wherever it has been practiced it usually goes hand in hand with female subservience, child brides, tribal and patriachal value systems and domestic violence. It might make a fulfilling lifestyle choice for a handful of individuals in developed liberal democratic countries which have acheived (or at least made progress towards) women’s liberation, but its a pretty poor social institution in general.

3

abb1 03.07.07 at 3:43 pm

Monogamous marriage often goes with all these same things too. Also, abolition of a strict dress code goes hand in and with Girls Gone Wild.

4

Matt 03.07.07 at 3:46 pm

I’d wondered how long it would take for abb1 to start trolling this thread. I’m glad to see he doesn’t disapoint.

5

abb1 03.07.07 at 4:33 pm

Well, since I already have been outed as a troll, I guess there’s no point in holding back my other question: in the first link, where Mr. Mostafaie, Attorney at Law, is trying to argue that the arrest was illegal – it appears to me that he has only managed to demonstrate that women’s demands aren’t unconstitutional, leaving wide open the possibility that the protest itself was, perhaps, unsanctioned – which would (I presume) make the arrests perfectly legal (at least in the US it would).

I don’t know, perhaps they applied for a permit and got one for a free speech zone of some sort, but instead decided to protest right in front of the Islamic Revolutionary Court, which, perhaps, is against the law? Just curious.

6

Pete 03.07.07 at 4:34 pm

Polygamy + arranged marriages = bad for women

7

Katherine 03.07.07 at 4:35 pm

Wow, the post is about the astonishing oppression of women in Iran, and you somehow manage to start the comments by defending multiple wives for men. That really takes some doing.

Do you have even a small clue what this is actually about?

8

Barry 03.07.07 at 4:35 pm

You know, with man-hating islamocommunoqueerecofeminazis running the country, we should be able to have abb1 sacrificed to the Goddess, or eaten, or taken away to a harem to be somebody’s concubine, or something.

Can one of you man-hating islamocommunoqueerecofeminazis who run our one-great country look into that?

Thanks

9

Ingrid Robeyns 03.07.07 at 4:50 pm

abb1, could you please think about the derailing effects of your comments before posting, please?

I am sure there are all sorts of interesting additional perspectives on this movement in Iran, on the possibilities of genuine change from below, on whether a regime like this may create so much fear among these women that their movement is killed, about what kind of western responses can be productive or counterproductive, and many many more things. I would really love to have that discussion here, read information from commenters who know much more about this country and about activism under such pale conditions than what we have in our countries. Many of the Iranian websites are ‘filtered’, and the telephones of the women active in this movement tapped; so I hope we can have some genuine free and informative discussion on this forum.

I suggest we draw an imaginary line under this comment#9, and re-open the comment section at #10.

10

abb1 03.07.07 at 5:20 pm

Do you have even a small clue what this is actually about?

This is about solidarity with the women’s rights movement. I’m sure everybody here is in agreement with the women’s rights movement, I certainly am.

So, you can have a thread without comments. Alternatively, we could have a lively conversation.

OK, now I’ll shut up, out of respect. Sorry, I didn’t mean to upset anybody.

11

Ivo 03.07.07 at 9:54 pm

I am really surprised the BBC links provided are taken at face value when the aggressive language and the one sided presentation is clearly aimed at creating/ boosting the negative attitudes toward Iranian state and traditional Islamic culture. To me the disturbing events in Iran and the women movement for equality are clearly exploited for propaganda purposes.

Not to mention that the events as described by BBC could have happened in the UK. You have the right to peacefully protest there but only if your protest is officially sanctioned. If not you will end up in the police (and possibly in prison) for anti-social behavior.

In my view women struggle for equality is far more complex issue when taken beyond Western culture. You simply cannot transplant cultural norms as simple as that. Even within the Western culture there is a significant divide between the North and the South. In more traditional cultures, Greece spring to mind, even today a significant number of marriages in well off families are arranged in one way or another. Apparently in the light of the family as a social and economic institution this way is considered as the lesser evil.

On a side note, I am saddened to see abb1 labelled as “Troll” and taken on personally. His comments may be not to everyone’s taste but if he is so much beside the point other participants would simply ignore him. It’s impossible a free discussion to be like a well rehearsed choral performance.

12

Laleh 03.07.07 at 11:55 pm

I usually agree with much of abb1’s subversive writings, but here, his/her flippant dismissal of these women’s activism is off the mark. These women do NOT want external intervention (of US/UK administration variety, or indeed of a sort of euro-centric and tone-deaf feminism that is blind to imperial uses of feminism) on their behalf, and believe that change comes through constant contentious action. As such they have chosen a series of distinct and discrete items over which there is contention within the Islamic law (as interpreted and practiced in Iran) and by protesting over these items they hope to chip away at the discriminatory edifice of law in Iran.

Polygamy is one of these items. Iranian law had made some some efforts at making the practice more equitable, but in practice, it is impossible to make the institution equitable for all women. Law/justice, in Iran as elsewhere, is not blind. Gender, class, urban/rural location etc. all result in differential applications of the law. Precisely the kind of women who are most vulnerable to vagaries of unequal justice -younger, poorer, possibly more rural women- are also those who on average are subjected to polygamy.

Besides, women have been more successful than almost any other group in transforming the political space in Iran since the revolution (their ever-increasing engagement in politics, their constant struggle for voice, their ability to influence language, agenda, etc.) and for this reason the regime fears them. That is why these women (some of whom I know personally) are now put into prison and subjected to god knows what sorts of beatings and indignities.

13

jet 03.08.07 at 12:02 am

ivo,

You are absolutely right. Your defense of the violence against Iranian women (as what could that be but a defense?), makes perfect sense. Women’s rights is a “complex” issue, and can’t simply be “transplanted” from the Western culture to the Eastern culture, so obviously these women deserve to be brutally oppressed by the state for even daring to broach the subject in peaceful gatherings. And we are just ignorant Westerners, with no idea of how the Iranian government should deal with the enigma of women’s rights.

And your association of Iran with the UK is very illuminating. When Iranian Sunnis protested the Iranian war with Iraq, I seem to recall it looked exactly like this. You aren’t exaggerating at all to say Iranian oppression has reached horrible UK levels.

14

Laleh 03.08.07 at 12:07 am

I usually respect abb1’s subversive interventions, but here her/his flippant remarks are way off the mark.

First of all, these women are now subjected to beatings, insults, and god knows what other kinds of dignities, so frankly, whether or not they had a license to protest is irrelevant. In a related aside, since when has civil disobedience/protest/contentious action required the permission of authorities?

Secondly, activist women in Iran occupy positions all along the political spectrum. While many are secular, the majority would identify as Muslim, and a significant portion are Islamists (which is different than being Muslim). The one thing they all share is a profound opposition to violent external intervention in their name (of the variety used by Bush/Blair et al). Furthermore, many would consider themselves “Third World Feminists”, i.e. acutely aware that imperial or neocolonial policies of intervention all too co-opt a feminist discourse and has done so for decades as an instrument of power. This was as true of Lord Cromer in Egypt as it is of Bush and the Afghan women.

Thirdly, these women’s struggle against polygamy is part of a larger strategy of activist women in Iran. This strategy is incremental institutionalisation of particular rights. but as importantly, it is to transform the edifice of the law. Islamic law -as interpreted and practiced in Iran- makes some minor allowances for first wives to give them some voice in their husband’s choosing of a second wife, but she has no right of veto. More importantly, these laws don’t even protect the most vulnerable populations, i.e. younger, poorer women in more rural areas, because after all, law/justice in Iran (as elsewhere) is never blind, but rather subject to variation on the basis of gender, class, wealth, you name it.

These women are to be admired to trying to change small things so as to make the larger environment more hospitable to women. Solidarity is definitely in order.

15

Laleh 03.08.07 at 12:10 am

And by the way, these women have names. Lest those who are imprisoned remain nameless, their names are:

Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh, Shadi Sadr, Asieh Amini, Nooshin Ahmadi Khorasani, Parvain Ardalan, Nahid Keshavarz, Mahboubeh Hosseinzadeh, Niloofar Golkar, Parastoo Dokoohaki, Maryam Mirza, Mariam Hossein Khah, Nahid Jafari, Minoo Mortezayee Langroodi, , Fatemeh Govarayee, Shahla Entesari, Soosan Tahmasbi, Azadeh Forghani, Jila Bani Yaghoub, Nahid Entesari, Saghi Laghaee, Saghar Laghaee, Elnaz Ansari, Sara Imanian, Jelveh Javaheri, Zara Amjadian, Zeinab Peyghambarzadeh, Nasrin Afzali, Mahnaaz Mohammadi, Somayeh Farid, Farideh Entesari, Sarah Loghmani, and Rezan Moghaddam.

16

Seth Edenbaum 03.08.07 at 12:35 am

The “complexity” some people are referring to concerns the fact that there’s a difference between speaking for people and supporting them when they choose to speak for themselves.

Solidarity is definitely in order.

17

derrida derider 03.08.07 at 2:14 am

abb1’s comment was pretty bad, but ivo’s was absolutely appalling – it’s like a caricature of cultural relativism.

I consider myself a bit of a lefty, but I’m deeply unsympathetic to the line of “it may appear evil to us, but we can’t judge because it’s a different culture”. In fact it’s the reason that whenever I hear the word “culture” I reach for my Browning.

18

Ivo 03.08.07 at 2:25 am

Apparently my critical stance on the BBC reports and the acknowledgement of the cultural differences has been equaled to support of the repressions. I won’t comment as this is simply absurd.

laleh, thank you for the details. The issue you mention, since when has civil disobedience/protest/contentious action required the permission of authorities is quite interesting but perhaps better left for a separate thread. I hope somebody of the regulars would bring it up someday. Suffice to say, in some countries you need the authorities blessing before you proceed with your protest.

Jet, your interpretation is really wild but, need I say, has almost nothing to do with my words. To clear any misunderstanding, yes, I consider UK to be the most authoritarian state in Western Europe. The really lamentable side is that (as is always the case) substantial part of the population apparently support that. Remember the barbaric “Support our troops”? Not to mention that a mass murderer and an outright trickster was re-elected as a Prime Minister.

19

Seth Edenbaum 03.08.07 at 2:27 am

and I assume you know whom you’re quoting

20

Seth Edenbaum 03.08.07 at 2:30 am

that comment was for derrida derider

21

Ivo 03.08.07 at 2:51 am

re: derrida derider
“it may appear evil to us, but we can’t judge because it’s a different culture”

You can judge as much as you like. By “transplanting” I meant imposing certain cultural norms/ social order upon a different culture by economic and military force. It simply doesn’t work. And if you are kind to notice, create in itself a lot of suffering.

You reach for your Browning whenever you hear about “different culture”? Very thoughtful.

22

Matt 03.08.07 at 4:44 am

“whenever I hear the word “culture” I reach for my Browning.”

When I read this my first thought was, “Robert or Elizabeth?”

23

Dan Kervick 03.08.07 at 5:53 am

abb1, could you please think about the derailing effects of your comments before posting, please?

I don’t understand comments like this. abb1’s comment was either interesting and worthwhile, or it was not interesting and worthwhile. But why must he stay on somebody else’s prescribed rails? And if someone who wants to stay on those rails falls off them to take on abb1, isn’t that their fault?

I do regret that the global effectiveness of the women’s movement in Iran is being held hostage to some extent by other geopolitical events. But the fact is that in the US we are being presented at this time with a relentless barrage of propaganda against just about all things Iranian, and there is a tendency to repond with a certain amount of skepticism to yet more news stories that purport to present some very negative facts about the Iranian regime, with very murky and fragmentary evidence to support those facts. Perhaps it is over-sensitivity, but many of us have our radar up for more “bayonetted babies in the incubators” stories.

How are women in Saudi Arabia, for example, responding to international women’s day? My understanding is that for all Iran’s very real problems and injustices, women’s possibilities for education and professional advancement in Iran are much greater than in Saudi Arabia. So how is it that at this fraught time, Iran is the country singled out for special media attention?

24

Ingrid Robeyns 03.08.07 at 7:39 am

I am very much aware about the dangers of abusing cases like this for pro-USA-rethoric. But in this case the arrested women and the Iranian women’s movement themselves have asked the international women’s movement (of which I consider myself a member for about the last 20 years) to pay attention to what is happening in Iran. I am two degrees of connection away to some of these arrested women, so I have good reasons to think that the information that I have (apart from all the info that I linked to) is reliable, and that this call for solidarity is not orcchestrated by people who want to highjack these women’s struggles for anti-Iranian or anti-muslim goals. The USA and its allies should realise that the make it double difficult for feminists to speak about gross women’s rights violations in countries which have been declared “the enemy”, since the entirely unproductive war language against countries as Iran makes it difficult to debate these womens’ rights violations and the struggles of the womens’ movement without the discussion being abused for USA propaganda.

The reason why this post is not about all women in the world but specifically about women in Iran, adn in particular the women who have been arrested, is that this has happend this week, and the arrests may have been caused by a motivation to prevent Iranian women from celebrating/marking international women’s day. They have asked the women’s movements worldwide to show their solidarity, and I was hoping we could do that here at Crooked Timber too.

Laleh, thanks for the names of the arrested women. I have hesitated to include them in the post, but in the end decided not to include them for stylistic reasons and since I didn’t want to make the post too long. But I’m glad you decided it is better to have the names listed here too, thanks.

25

abb1 03.08.07 at 7:52 am

Laleh, excuse me, but while the question of polygamy is a matter of opinion (and I decline to discuss it here), the question of legality of the arrests is a matter of fact.

I don’t know what the facts are, and, as far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing wrong with the tactic of holding illegal protests with the intent of being arrested thus attracting international attention, but if this is indeed the case (again, I don’t know; maybe Mr. Mostafaie just isn’t a good lawyer), then describing the arrests as illegal is going to damage the credibility of the movement. That can’t be good for the movement.

26

matjouz 03.08.07 at 8:48 am

As a British Iranian who has visited Iran many times, I always find it interesting to get the “Western” view of Iranian culture through discussions like this one.

While I couldn’t possibly deny stories like this one are both true and point to a worrying problem, I have never, ever while in Iran, witnessed oppression of women in any form. Indeed, the women in my family are strong, confident and hardly subject to their husbands nor any other man for that matter. Ignorance is not bliss however – my point simply being that life is not a perpetual nightmare for women, incidents like the reaction to these women’s protest are not commonplace. If anything, the theocracy’s maltreatment of women in the name of upholding Islamic law is no worse than that of men in general.

It’s hard to deny that Iran has a long way to go in terms of providing basic civil rights we all take for granted. It seems strange however that so much attention is focussed on Iran, when places like Saudi Arabia still deny even the most basic human rights to women, and there is open rape, torture and mutilation of women in places like Sudan.

If we were to somehow rank nations on the basis of their treatment of women – I bet all the money in my pocket that Iran won’t be as close to the bottom of the pile as the media attention implies. Plus let us not forget that Iran is moving, albeit slowly, in the direction of reform, something which isn’t close to being on the agenda in other states with similar issues.

27

Hidari 03.08.07 at 9:15 am

I always thought people like ‘Ivo’ were a figment of the ‘decent left’s’ imagination. Guess not.

One key point: ‘traditional Islamic culture’.

NO. As I thought was well known there is no precedent, none, for the idea that religious people should actually run the state in Islam (let alone in Shia Islam, which tends to be more ‘populist’ than Sunni Islam). It has well been said that in 1979 Khomeni really invented a new religion (‘Khomeni-ism’) which drew on Islamic traditions. Khomeni was in no sense a ‘conservative': his thought is radical and tears up over a thousand years of traditional Islamic jurisprudence and political thought.

It’s funny that people who intend to be politically correct invariably end up sounding like the worst kind of patronising liberal. So now Greece is a ‘traditional’ culture???!! Greece??!!! The country what (with Plato and Aristotle and others) invented (Western) modernity? What Ivo is getting at is that Greece was (and, alas, still is) a poor country (‘traditional’ is usually used as a euphemism for ‘poor’ by white middle class western males). But it is a member of the EC, they have the internet, Greeks are politically sophisticated…it is not in ANY sense a ‘traditional’ culture (whatever THAT ambiguous phrase means).

The logical end result of this, of course, is that ‘we’ end up defending the Christian Right of the United States. After all, they are just defending their ‘traditional morality’. And you can’t impose ‘Northern’ (i.e. of the Northern United States) values on the ‘South’ (i.e. Southern States).

28

Ingrid Robeyns 03.08.07 at 9:50 am

According to “the latest news”:http://www.meydaan.com/English/showarticle.aspx?arid=184&cid=52, all but three women have been released. These is the information that I received about the three women that are still under arrest:

Jila Baniyaghoub is a well-known journalist. She is the editor of the website of the Iranian Women’s Society and the editor of the society and women’s sections of Sarmaye newspaper. She is best-known for her book on Iranian women’s journalism and for her reports from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Shadi Sadr is a prominent lawyer, journalist, and activist. She founded Zanan-e Iran, the first website dedicated to the work of Iranian women’s rights activists, and she has written numerous articles and several books on the subject of Iranian women and their legal rights. Shadi Sadr has represented a number of persecuted activists and journalists and has donated her time in successfully overturning the convictions of several women sentenced to execution.
Shadi Sadr is also director of Raahi, a center that supports women attaining their legal rights.

Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh is the editor of the Zanan quarterly journal and is a key member of the Campaign Against Stoning. She also serves as the director of the NGO Training Center. In November 2004, Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh was arrested as a result of her activism on women’s rights and was detained for over a month.

29

Ingrid Robeyns 03.08.07 at 10:03 am

matjouz, thanks for your comment. The Iranian women are not fighting their husbands or other individual men, they are fighting the legal system that denies them equal rights with men. I agree that we have to be careful to focus not just on Iran and forget about all other countries, but the reason of the current focus in Iran is precisely to support the change that these Iranian women are trying to achieve themselves, and because they have called upon other women, including those in Europe and the USA, to show solidarity.

My post should not be read as an attempt to implicitely say that Iran is the worst possible place for women to live – I have no reason to believe this, and I think such a statement would be rather pointless too. My post is simply a response to the call of the Iranian women’s movement to spread the news about what has happened, since that is part of the strategy that they have decided to follow.

Anyway, I think I now have said more than enough in justification for why I have written this post – I feel like I’m starting to repeat myself…

30

Ivo 03.08.07 at 11:11 am

re: hidari

Let me say that I find your comments in regard of Iran and Greece highly simplified and misleading.

Iran is NOT run by “religious people” who “actually run the state in Islam”. Please return to reality. In Iran religion has large influence on state level BUT Iran is organised in issentialy western manner, with Constitution and sophisticated bodies for the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary branch of the Government. All of the members of those bodies are elected, directly or indirectly by voting system. There is a universal suffrage in Iran. For you own information, Iran is not a theocratic state in the strict sense of the word as the Theocracy mirror a divine order as an organisational model. Traditionally such states are monarchy and the head of the state serve also as the ultimate spiritual authority, the divine on earth (bizarrely, UK remain theocratic on paper: the Queen is the head of the state and the head of the Anglican Church).

Oh, and let me add, to your disappointment probably, that immediately after Chomeini rose to power the establishment of the Islamic republic was by plebiscite for all over age of (!)16 and regardless of gender.

Iran simply represent a form of governance that make Anglo-Saxon countries “reach for the Browning”. It is mostly state owned economic, with state funded welfare, muslim, and annoyingly with legitimate form of Government. All in all, worst than Cuba.

I am inclined to think that a dialogue with Iran, complemented with free flow of cultural exchange would have benefited Iranian women as well. The way Iranian state exist today – governance, economics, education, science and healthcare suggest that Iranias are inclined to implement Western models.

Classical Antiquity was some time ago I believe… It did not invented (Western) modernity strictly speaking. Modern Greece is shaped to a significant degree by the Christian Ortodoxy, arguably the most rigid form of Christianity; and the modern Greek statehood was build upon rampant chauvinism which, of course, did not exist in Antiquity.
The example I cited about arranging marriages in Greece has nothing to do with the lack of sophistication or economic status. On contrary, apparently the practice goes hand in hand with them. In addition, in families with two children of opposing gender, the boy more often than not gets a higher and better level of education; homosexuality in the Western sense – as an identity, not just as a practice – still evoke markedly hostile reaction in Greece; and the macho and sexist culture there remain surprisingly vital.

An apology to Ingrid Robeyns and the rest for the not directly relevant post.

31

Seth Edenbaum 03.08.07 at 1:16 pm

Greece has a bad reputation as far as women are concerned.
Violence is common. And in Iran women make up 60% of the students in higher education. There’s a women’s movement because woman have enough authority and confidence to build one. Read the list of the accomplishments of those arrested.
That’s not a criticism it’s a compliment.

“But it is a member of the EC, they have the internet, Greeks are politically sophisticated…it is not in ANY sense a ‘traditional’ culture (whatever THAT ambiguous phrase means).”

That is by far the stupidest comment on this thread. Running in the opposite direction It still beats abb1 by a mile. You want to hear a the common name for of greeks made by world weary travelers?: “Arabs with pants.”
That’s my offensive comment for the day.

32

Hidari 03.08.07 at 1:28 pm

‘That is by far the stupidest comment on this thread.’

I do apologies for my non-racist statements about the Greeks. I promise from now on that my posts will consist entirely of wild generalisations about various ethnic groups. In fact, it should be taken as read in any of my further posts (whether I say it or not) that all Greeks are greasy foreigners who do nothing but pinch girl’s arses, that Italians are untrustworthy and excitable, that the French smell, that Arabs are all terrorists, that Jews are all mean (and probably rule the world let’s face it), and that Americans are all loud, obnoxious and all wear Hawaiian shirts without exception.

‘Arabs with pants’? Jesus Christ.

In response to all the ‘why Iran’ question I would refer you back to Ingrid: ‘The reason why this post is not about all women in the world but specifically about women in Iran, adn in particular the women who have been arrested, is that this has happend this week, and the arrests may have been caused by a motivation to prevent Iranian women from celebrating/marking international women’s day. They have asked the women’s movements worldwide to show their solidarity, and I was hoping we could do that here at Crooked Timber too.’.

But obviously that’s just a bit too difficult for some people. Incidentally, what’s the correct racist stereotype for the Iranians, used by ‘world weary’ (white, middle class, male) travellers? Because if Iran had a ‘a bad reputation as far as women are concerned’ then that would be the point proved, wouldn’t it? I mean who needs Amnesty international when you have racism to tell you what’s true?

33

Ivo 03.08.07 at 3:18 pm

Comments on the Iranian state are entirely justifiable as it runs at the heart of the matter. The thread is about state sanctioned violence inflicted upon the protesting women and the alleged women inequality before the law.

I used “alleged” because the Iranian legal fundament, the Constitution, state that men and women are equal (link provided by I.R. in the main text). As told in the main text apparently the problems arise because that equality is not implemented adequately on law and institutional level. Pity, not a single example is cited in the online documents by the Iranian sources.

The “One Million Signatures Demanding Changes to Discriminatory Laws” is in fact a program manifesto with a very broad scope, involving social evolution of Iranian society with special accent on women. Really impressive as a vision and attempt to bring it closer to reality. Elsewhere on en.we4change.com foreign legal precedents are cited as an example to follow but again, not a citation of single article from Iranian discriminatory a law.

34

Seth Edenbaum 03.08.07 at 3:40 pm

“Greece is a ‘traditional’ culture???!! Greece?? The country what (with Plato and Aristotle and others) invented (Western) modernity? “
oy.

I quoted your own insipid generalizations back at you and threw in a couple of my own- courtesy of an old friend, a woman who’s lived in Athens and all over the Gulf for 20 years. Mine at least have a little weight.

So, Iran does not have the internet? It has a large blogging community within in that a large group of literary bloggers. Tehran itself has a very cosmopolitan cultural life.

There is no need to see any debate in the comments of Laleh, Matjouz, Dan Kervick or myself. That was my point.
The risks of overstatement may, or may not, be evident in Ingrid Robeyns’ post but are front and center in abb1’s button pushing and your blather.

The Iranian women’s movement is not a western invention and is not a wholly funded operation the the CIA, the US State Dept. or USAID. Moreover it is a movement of the educated and sophisticated. It should be and can be both understood and supported. It is to be respected, as Iran itself is to be respected, not responsed to with either pity or contempt, the two choices most often in evidence in debates such as this one.

Pity is contempt. I always think that’s a obvious point but still I have to make it again and again.

35

Rana 03.08.07 at 4:23 pm

This post is welcome. The situation for women in Iran is appalling. Better than it might be in, say, northern Nigeria (where I visited recently), in Pakistan, or in other countries in the Middle East, but still oppressive, grossly unequal and often brutal. As in many of these countries, there is a great divide between the urban and the rural in Iran, with women’s conditions in the latter often subject to customs that haven’t changed in centuries (I left Iran in 1991 but still visit family there regularly). But while it is a mistake to think that even a liberal regime in Tehran could effect a quick elimination of barbarous practices, the entrenchment of a regressive, theocratic government (Velayat-e faqih) has demonstrably worsened things for women. The public protests that Ingrid has highlighted are dangerous gestures in Iran (as the Tehran bus workers’ union can testify – http://www.iranpressnews.com/english/source/017804.html -or- http://www.cwu.org/news.asp?step=3&NID=1237) and these brave women deserve our support.

[And I find it ironic that those CT commenters who object to the "singling out" of Iran for its treatment of women are invariably those who regularly engage in the singling out of a certain other Middle Eastern country... ]

36

Hidari 03.08.07 at 5:01 pm

Seth

you are babbling. I have absolutely, literally no idea what you are talking about. (‘The Iranian women’s movement is not a western invention and is not a wholly funded operation the the CIA, the US State Dept. or USAID.’….er….what? Please God don’t tell me you think that I think they are). I’m not going to throw back my own experiences of Greece (and I know plenty about the country) back at YOU. Or continue to let my mind boggle about where ‘pity is contempt’ comes from. Or ask where you got the mysterious idea that I believe that Iran does not have the internet from.

And please don’t try and tell me where you got these bizarre ideas from, as, believe me, from the bottom of my heart, I truly do not care.

In any case, this is degenerating into another thread in which white males congratulate themselves on their knowledge of countries which they have not visited and whose language they do not speak, so I’m going to bow out now and let sane people like Ingrid and Katherine talk about what this thread was intended to be about (the oppression of Iranian women) and not the truth or otherwise of racist stereotypes about the Greeks.

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abb1 03.08.07 at 5:20 pm

And I find it ironic that those CT commenters who object to the “singling out” of Iran for its treatment of women are invariably those who regularly engage in the singling out of a certain other Middle Eastern country…

Um, I don’t think it’s ironic at all; in fact it’s perfectly consistent, considering that the “other Middle Eastern country” is not a Middle Eastern country, but a Western country, part of the West. It just happens to be located in the Middle East.

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Seth Edenbaum 03.08.07 at 9:58 pm

Hidari you refer to Ingrid Robeyns and Katherine. Without meaning disrespect to either I’ll quote Laleh and then Helena Cobban (below):

Secondly, activist women in Iran occupy positions all along the political spectrum. While many are secular, the majority would identify as Muslim, and a significant portion are Islamists (which is different than being Muslim). The one thing they all share is a profound opposition to violent external intervention in their name (of the variety used by Bush/Blair et al). Furthermore, many would consider themselves “Third World Feminists”, i.e. acutely aware that imperial or neocolonial policies of intervention all too co-opt a feminist discourse and has done so for decades as an instrument of power. This was as true of Lord Cromer in Egypt as it is of Bush and the Afghan women.

Here’s Cobban from November of last year on Well-organized people power in northern Gaza

I have long argued– including in this article on Hizbullah, or this article on the women’s organizations of Hamas– that the bedrock of the political strength of well-organized Islamist organizations like Hamas or Hizbullah has been their ability to build sturdy, resilient civilian mass organizations covering all sectors of society– rather than merely their creation of the (much smaller) armed organizations whose activities seem to get most of the coverage in the western media.

Well now, the Hamas women have played a hugely important role in defusing the latest crisis in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun.
continue

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Meydaan.com 03.09.07 at 9:27 am

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engels 03.09.07 at 5:44 pm

Gosh. A thread about feminism gets taken over by a bunch of commenters who would rather have a shouting match about more manly topics like War, the theory of cultural relativism and Israel/Palestine. This must be the first time something like this has ever happened on the internet.

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Nell 03.10.07 at 9:40 pm

I’m late to the thread, but would welcome any pointers on where I can get more information about the Campaign Against Stoning.

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seth edenbaum 03.10.07 at 11:57 pm

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Ingrid Robeyns 03.11.07 at 10:48 am

Nell, you can also take a look here:
http://www.meydaan.org/stoning/
or (should lead to the same page)
http://www.stopstoning.org

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