The world is taking part in International Women’s Day in a myriad of ways; some of it commercial offering to donate $100 to the cause of your choice, and other’s political with marches planned in the U.S. protesting a wide range of issues from reproductive rights to opposition to administration’s policies.
Women the world over are gathering to reinforce their solidarity with their gender and to support issues of concern to them. It’s an annual spectacle that for many celebrates the freedom and opportunities women are now enjoying everywhere…except in the Iranian regime.
Although International Women’s Day has been around since 1908, its origins as a fight for equal pay and voting rights has morphed into the hashtag #IWD and lost some of its fervor. It’s also at times celebrated not as a call to political arms, but now used to tout corporate branding campaigns emphasizing a product or company’s openness to women.
Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that in many places in the world, women continue to be treated as second-class citizens or even property of their husbands and fathers. Nowhere is that more brutally explicit than in Iran where the ruling mullahs have consistently passed laws that would make any Western feminist breath fire in reaction.
The Iran lobby has tried to cover up this fact by praising window-dressing efforts to empower women in Iran, but those efforts have rung hollow in the face of escalating brutality aimed specifically at women.
Shahriar Kia, a political analyst and member of the Iranian opposition, the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran, outlined some of these practices in a piece for American Thinker.
“Iranian regime President Hassan Rouhani has recently been making remarks about women’s rights (!) in an attempt to cloak his portion of the Iranian regime’s misogynist report card,” Kia writes. “In his own memoirs, from page 571 to 573, Rouhani explains in detail how in 1980 he began enforcing mandatory hijab regulations as the mullahs began their historical campaign against Iranian women.”
Rouhani’s tenure has also been the hallmark home of systematic oppression against women, workers, college students, writers, journalists, dissident bloggers; imposing poverty and unemployment on a majority of Iranians; continuous threats made against the media; punishment of political prisoners have increased significantly even in comparison to the years of Iran’s firebrand Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. During Rouhani’s human rights violations-stained tenure, an average of two to three people have been executed on a daily basis, Kia adds.
The mistreatment of women in Iran extends also to non-Iranian women citizens as in the appalling treatment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British charity worker who was sentenced to prison for five years by a secret Iranian regime court and has been abused and denied much-needed medical care and given the option of only be able to see her child in prison.
Last year a UN body of human rights experts described her detention as “arbitrary” and said she had been denied a fair trial, according to the Telegraph.
This week, the UN released a new report on human rights in Iran, written by Asma Jahangir, the Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran.
From the outset, it is clear that there has been no marked improvement in human rights in the Gulf nation, despite President Hassan Rouhani signing a Citizens’ Rights Charter in December 2016.
The 14,000-word report discusses both ongoing cases of abuse (like the execution of juveniles) and urgent situations (like the fate of political prisoners denied medical care).
Jahangir, who spoke to non-governmental organizations, intellectuals, lawyers and victims to ensure the accuracy of this report, also covers torture, the bias judicial system, free speech and women’s rights and clearly details just how far human rights, especially for women, have sunk in Iran.
For its part, the Iranian regime as usual blasted the UN report and defended the indefensible in its human rights situation.
In an address to a high-level meeting of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi denounced a recent resolution raised in the council as “totally baseless and unacceptable,” claiming that political use of human rights by certain countries would pose a real challenge to the council’s goals and undermine and discredit the UN body, according to regime-controlled Tasnim News.
The UN report stated that “the Islamic Republic of Iran has reportedly executed the highest number of juvenile offenders in the world during the past decade. Despite an absolute ban on the practice under international law, the penal code continues to explicitly retain the death penalty for boys of at least fifteen lunar years of age and girls of at least 9 lunar years for qisas (retribution in kind) or hudud crimes, like homicide, adultery or sodomy.”
“The Special Rapporteur urges the Islamic Republic of Iran to take proactive steps to promote the full realization of the rights of human rights defenders and to refrain from any acts that violate the rights of human rights defenders because of their human rights work. The government should take strict measures to ensure that the security and intelligence apparatus does not use reprisals against families of those who monitor or campaign against human rights violations or express views that are contrary to government policies,” the report added.
Aside from the cruelty of human rights in Iran, which includes severe punishments for even minor infractions such as not wearing traditional hijab head coverings, Iranian women are denied economic growth and access to good paying jobs.
According to a Pew Research Center analysis of labor force statistics from 114 nations from 2010 to 2016, the median female share of a nation’s workforce was 45.4%, but in the case of Iran, women made up only a paltry 17.4% of the workforce, ranking near the bottom among all countries.
For all of the talk of empowerment and moderation in Iran by the regime and its Iran lobby supporters, the truth is dismal and the outlook for women even bleaker.
The next time women march for Women’s Day, it might be worth remembering the millions of Iranian women who are denied their futures and can’t even march in protest for fear of arrest and imprisonment.