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Rights of Women in Iran

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    Iran severely restricts women’s rights from what clothes they wear to the jobs they hold, to being restricted from watching sports in a stadium. Despite the strides prompted by the revolution in 1979 many kinds of gender equality is still foreign to Iran. Iran is one of the few countries with laws and treatment toward women are directly against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Many of the articles of the UDHR show how awful the conditions are for women in Iran. Since 1979, more and more women have joined the fight for their rights but sadly Iran still remains a country restricting basic human rights. In spite of the progress of women getting equal rights, there remain countries where women do not have any rights at all and right now, there is not a single country where a woman can feel absolutely safe. Iran as a whole regulates the freedom and rights of women and it is really less of regulating but more of restricting. Iran’s laws represent the worst kind of discrimination against women and a society of misogyny.

    The problem is so much more than sexism but misogyny and gender discrimination and its hidden behind their excuse of religious beliefs. Social exclusion, discrimination based on gender, and misogyny is hardly a new thing and stretches back thousands of years. The idea that men are superior to women and it being put into action is a tale as old as time and is the world’s oldest prejudice. In the ancient cultures of the world, the ones where women were leaders and had the same equality as men thrived. In Egypt, Hatshepsut was a female king of Egypt who achieved groundbreaking power for a woman, she ended up earning the full titles and regalia of a pharaoh. Hatshepsut based her foreign policy on something other than war, trade which led to her reign being peaceful.

    Cleopatra was a linguist and a fleet commander who completely reformed the system in Alexandria and Egypt at large with the support of her Greek and Egyptian subjects. There are so many more strong women in history that prevailed in life. However, misogyny is prevalent in the ancient writings of Greece and shows how much hatred has been in the world against women for the longest time. In classic Greek and Roman writings, misogynists are dime a dozen. Aristotle did not deem women as equalsto men in facy he saw them as incomplete and deformed males. In his writings, particularly his Timaeus and Laws dialogue, Plato continously creates inferior women characters against superior male characters. In ancient Rome, husbands preferred their wives pretty and ignorant and intelligent women had to be careful because if men would take offense at a woman being more intelligent than him. Jumping forward quite some time, Native American tribes were an example of an equal society that is until they were invaded. In the beginning, Native Americans lived in a communal society with a hunter-gatherer system. However, cultural exchange altered the equal-gender lifestyle.

    Hunter-gatherer societies would split equal roles amongst men and women, shared responsibility. The times then changed as the expectations of society dictated gender roles, that husbands work while wives stay home. The point of this research is to discuss the inequality in Iran, how much it is ruining the lives of the women there and what needs to be done about it. Iran’s misogynistic and patriarchal culture and the system runs on women having no rights. Any women brave enough to step up and say something, to fight back is imprisoned, tortured, or killed. The law there is not fair and was designed to work for men and against women. The men there who have every opportunity because the system ensures they are on top do nothing against this injustice. Every human being deserves basic rights, something some countries don’t give to their women because they see them as less. There is a United Nations declaration covering what are human rights, many of which are the opposite of what Iranian women are given. Education on women’s rights and why they need to be fought for is something that shouldn’t be necessary but sadly is. There is a universal declaration of all human rights that was adopted shortly after WWII ended by the UN General Assembly.

    Articles one through three declare that ‘all humans are born free and equal in dignity and rights, everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or another opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status and everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.’ (Universal Declaration of All Human Rights, United Nations) All humans are born free and equal in dignity means that every person has the right to equality in every form. ‘Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status’ (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations) meaning every human being is entitled to all the rights and freedoms without their race, colour, sex, language, religion, political affiliation, national or social origin, and any other status affecting those rights and freedoms.

    ‘Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person’ (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations) meaning the right to personal freedom, people cannot be detained without good reason. Of course, none of these rights apply to the brave women in Iran. According to the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, a wife’s failure to comply with the lawful wishes of her husband constitutes nushuz, or disobedience, which means she may lose her rights. They have no liberty and security of person, they will be sentenced to prison for not wearing a hijab. In Iran, women have barely any forms of equality and their only freedoms have to be granted by the male of their household. Article four of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares ‘no one should be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all forms.’ (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations) This does not just prohibit slavery but also servitude in all of its forms.

    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was put together shortly after Hitler’s reign of terror ended: the servitude part of this article was in response to part of Nazi slave labor policy. Robert Conot reports that ‘a miniature white-slave trade was, in fact, being conducted by officials and Wehrmacht officers returning from the East.’ Nazis would give away attractive and Nordic-looking girls as presents to friends. Rene Cassin, who was a big part in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and earned the Noble Peace Prize for it, explained that he used the term servitude to cover the trading of women, children, and prisoners of war. Article five declares that ‘no one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment.’ (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations) Iranian women are held in servitude to whoever the man of their house is and to all men as in society as they are believed to be lower than them.

    In Iran, there is a law called ‘Bad Hijab’ which means that if any part of the body other than the hands and the face is exposed is punishable by up to 70 lashes or 60 days imprisonment. Women are put in prison for simply speaking out about equality.Article six declares that ‘everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.’ (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations) What it is saying is that every person had the right to be treated as a person in the eyes of the law. The law in Iran does not give women the consideration as a person that they deserve. To be held criminally responsible, a girl has to be nine years of age and a boy fifteen years of age. Honor killings are legal in Iran, an honor killing is a murder by a family to one of their family members when they have shamed the family in anyway. Though honor killings happen to males and females, they happen much more frequently to women usually by their male family friends. Iran has a compulsory hijab law which greatly controls its citizens since the punishment for women not wearing them are dire.

    In 1985, it became mandatory for women to wear the hijab with a law that forced all women in Iran, regardless of their religious beliefs, to dress in accordance with Islamic teachings. This allowed Iran to implement and maintain the government’s religion into Iran and its citizens. Article nine declares that ‘No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.’ (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations) Once again, this does not apply in Iran as the women there are imprisoned simply for mentioning equality and women having the same rights that men do. Article twelve declares ‘No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.’ (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations) Women in Iran are considered less than men simply because they are women. They have no protection; if they are considered to have shamed their family, it is legal for their family to give them an honor killing.

    Article thirteen declares ‘(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.’ (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations) Iranian women have to have permission to leave by a male relative and their lives are dictated by them. In 2015, a female athlete was not able to travel to a tournament because her husband refused to sign papers renewing her passport and thus did not allow her to play in the Asian Cup. Article nineteen declares ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.’ (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations)

    Women in Iran do not have the freedom to express anything. In February 2018, 29 Iranian women were arrested for protesting hijab laws. Women have proved themselves throughout history and deserve the same rights as men. Iran’s society is horribly angled against women; women are not allowed to choose what to wear. The government decides women’s clothes and attempts to protest result in being arrested, beaten, tortured and imprisoned. As a woman, the law considers you half of a person. Women can’t marry, have a surgery, go abroad, unless a man who is considered your owner somehow, allows it. This person can also stop you from studying and working anytime they like. Women don’t have a right to get a divorce or get the custody of any children. They are barred from certain major and sports and sports stadiums. They are banned from singing and dancing freely, any kind of expression really. These are real laws for women in Iran. Women have to wear certain cloth outdoors. Two women’s testimony equals one man’s testimony. A woman inherits half a share of a man. Only a father or a husband or a male relative can allow women marriage, surgery and getting a passport. Iranian women are standing up and fighting for equal rights and liberty but cannot do it alone.

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