Jun 13, 2005

Women Protest in Iran - Call for Rights

Women Protest in Iran - Call for Rights

More than 250 women gathered in front of Tehran University yesterday to protest sex discrimination imposed on them through Sharia law. Hundreds of police showed up and kept another 250 persons from joining them.

The women at yesterday's protest chanted, "We are women, we are the children of this land, but we have no rights." Others shouted, "No to totalitarianism". According to the Persian Journal witnesses said, "…the police clubbed several women, though there were no hospital reports of injuries." Demonstrators said they saw some women being detained and dragged away by officers.

"I have come to defend my rights because these people have always oppressed us," said Farangis Rafati, holding up a Kurdish women's group banner reported Iran Focus. "All the candidates in the election say the same things. They're the same people. It makes no difference if we vote because they will have someone elected among themselves."

Women have voted heavily in recent elections, but reportedly are growing disillusioned by the lack of progress made toward equal rights. "The candidates talk about rights but there's no improvement from what they've said before," said the writer and publisher, Soheila Beski. "I have always voted but this time I won't."

The hard-line Guardian Council, dominated by six unelected clerics and six judges, last month rejected on the basis of their sex 89 women who had registered to run in the upcoming elections.

This was not the first time in recent days public protests have been held. Women have been increasingly pushing for more rights during the time period leading up to elections scheduled in just a few days. Last week another group of women demonstrated against the disqualification of all women candidates from the upcoming presidential election. Organized by members of Iran's Women Activists Movement, they rallied in from of the Presidential Office, Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported. They said the ruling barring the candidates by the Guardian Council ignored the lawful rights of women. "According to the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the International Convention of Civil and Political Rights, which the Islamic Republic of Iran is obliged to observe, no one can be deprived of civil and political rights because of gender," a demonstrator was quoted as saying in China's People's Daily.

And last Wednesday 100 women rushed past guards at Azadi Stadium to protest rules banning their attendance at male sporting events.

"We don't want to recover our rights at the expense of men," said journalism student Shafiq Khanbani at yesterday's protest. "We want the democratic rights of all people to be respected and we're protesting because they're not."

Sources: Iran Focus, Persian Journal, Ms. Magazine, Iran Mania, IRNA, People's Daily (China)