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Imagine living in a country where the whole population is treated inhumanely, and 48% of the people are segregated even more from the others having even the most simple rights stolen from them. Unfortunately, this is the case for women in Iran, as they live in a country with an environment filled with fear and oppression. Since 1979, human rights have been depleted in Iran since the theocratic republic came to power and established laws that discriminate between genders. The 40 million women in the country have been bound to tight and unjust rules that strip them of many basic rights.
For the past 40 years, women in Iran have been unjustly victimized by the religious rules put in place by the ruling theocracy and the shocking truth is that these laws have robbed women of basic rights and restricts even their recreational activities, clothing, and traveling rights. Because of this segregation, the women’s rights injustice in Iran has become one of the worst in the world and there is only one solution that can fix it completely.
In Iran, the government rules like a dictatorship and treats its citizens terrible and restricts many aspects of daily life such as limited internet searching capabilities. Women are treated as second class citizens and are constantly targeted by the government through gender discrimination laws. The absurd laws are not only outdated, but also demeaning towards women as many clearly portray gender inequality. According to USA Today there are many laws against women in Iran such as how their testimony in court is worth half of a man’s, they are banned from male sporting events, and aren’t allowed to travel internationally without the permission of their superior male (Hjelmgaard 7).
It’s appalling these laws that make women in Iran feel like second class citizens exist.
The current women’s rights injustice in Iran began in 1979 when the revolution in Iran occurred and the Shah left along with all the large strides women had been working towards gaining equality. As a result of the Shah leaving, during the rise of the Islamic revolution in the 1970’s the new government closed down many women’s centers, childcare centers, and planned parenthood centers (VOA). Sadly, this was just the beginning of a four decade period of injustice for women. Today in Iran women are still buried under an avalanche of laws that moderate them. However, change has begun for the better but women are still treated poorly by the Islamic government in a way that shocks many. In a time where women all around the world are gaining equality in their respective countries, in Iran they are still tied down to ancient laws that block them from tapping their full potential.
Prior to the 1979 revolution, women enjoyed a lifestyle with limited segregation and few laws targeting them; they even had a rights movement created, supported, and led by the king in order to bring gender equality. USA Today states that the Shah of Iran had began the White Revolution in 1962, which went on to fight for many rights such as lifting the restriction of women wearing headscarves, ending extrajudicial divorce, and raising the minimum age of marriage to 18 (Hjelmgaard 17). Through all this support and equality many famous female scholars rose to fame during this era such as Shirin Ebadi who was the first female judge in Iran and a Nobel Peace Prize winner who received her education in Iran prior to the revolution.
Post-revolution differed as women’s rights began to diminish when the Islamic republic took charge. The new supreme ruler Ayatollah Khomeini even once said that “gender equality” is “unacceptable to the Islamic Republic.” It was because of leadership like this that led to the reestablishment of many discriminating laws against women that are driven by Muslim beliefs. Unfortunately, these laws are unjust and brutal as they humiliate and degrade many women, and if they do not follow them the consequences can be severe. David Blair states, “Throughout their lives, Iranian women are forced to navigate a web of restrictions, imposed by law and custom. Every aspect of their existence – from how they must dress in public, to the subjects they can study at university and the jobs they are allowed to do in the workplace – is closely regulated” (Blair 1). In a time where many women in countries like the U.S enjoy equal rights and freedom women in Iran must fight to earn what they deserve.
Many different moderation for women in Iran exist that address topics such as clothing, marriage, and politics. In Iran everyone, Muslim or not, must abide by the Sharia law of Islam which is a series of laws that places restrictions on food, clothing, ect. As for clothing, it means that women must wear hijab in public and the violation of that could result in punishment by the religious police. According to Iran’s Big Woman Problem: All of the Things Iranian Women Aren’t Allowed to Do, “Meanwhile, women who venture outdoors must wear a headscarf, known as the rusari, and a long overcoat, known as the manteau; alternatively, they can wear a black cloak known as the chador. These are legal requirements, punishable by fines or imprisonment for repeat offenders” (Blair 6). Although it is common for Muslims to follow these laws it is very unjust for non-Muslims to be forced to abide these laws, and the fact that they can be punished through a fine or get arrested is a restriction is in a way inhumane as it means that women can’t roam around in public as they please. Every day many women of all ages are harassed for “showing too much skin” as they yelled at and threatened to get arrested.
Another topic women are restricted in is marriage. In Iran, during marriage the male is still considered the superior and the wife his legally bound to their husband in this outdated system. According to USA Today in Iran the husband is the head of the family, and his wife is legally bound to obey him. A married woman cannot leave the country without her husband’s permission. Polygamy and ‘temporary marriage,’ which give unmarried men the right to have as many sexual partners as they wish, are allowed for men but not for women (Hjelmgaard 7). In this system not only are women unequal to a man, but she is also the inferior to him and must obey his orders. Even if a wife is in a abusive relationship she can not run away as her husband has the right to keep her detained in the country; if the husband commits adultery they can cover it up through the use of polygamy. It is absolutely horrific that this is allowed to occur in this day and age.
Women are also restricted in politics as they do not have equal rights as men when it comes to running for office. In politics, women are contained to only a certain amount of available positions and although women are allowed to run for certain positions, rare succeed. For example, there are only 9 women in the 290 seat parliament. Even though there is no rule against women being allowed to run for president, it as never happened as their applications have been repeatedly denied by the cleric council in charge. It is unjust that in a country where their rights are limited it is very hard for women to have their voice and opinions heard in politics. On the bright side however, President Hassan Rouhani had appointed a handful of women to his team.
The main reason as to why women still face these brutal conditions in Iran is because government. The misogynist government who sets the standards and laws have oppressed women to the point where they fear to speak up for their own basic rights as they are constantly threatened by the government such as the religious police who harass women and abuse their power. As a result, this injustice continues to prevail mainly because the government encourages it and uses its power to punish anyone who dares to call them out for their brutal treatment.
Another reason as to why this injustice prevails is due to religion. In a country where 99% of the population follows the Muslim faith it has led to the use of Muslim (Sharia) law in daily life. Although in recent times many Muslim rules against women has been loosened in countries such as Saudi Arabia it has not necessarily been the same in Iran. Since many women proclaim to Islamic faith it is hard for them to go against many of its sexist rules as it is a part of their religion. They can not go against what is preached in their holy book and as a result the sadist government has used this vulnerability and abused it as reasoning to treat women inhumanly.
The best way that this injustice of women’s rights in Iran can be restored is a new revolution. It’s not just the women that are oppressed in Iran, its everyone and the only way to free the 80 million people in this country is the world to give their support. As an Iranian American, it is very easy to understand the suffering that over 80 million people face. Everyone is scared for their life to voice their own opinions and do not have any way out of this adversity. The current government has driven the once beautiful and prospering country to the ground with brutally beating anyone who voices their disagreement. It is the 21st century and women must not be treated based off of outdated and ancient rules that not only treat them unequally with men but also degrade them to feel worthless.
To prevent this in the future Iran must have its government restored to a non religious one that promotes gender equality so women can be free to follow their dreams and act like they wish. For 40 years the innocent citizens of Iran have been given a negative reputation of being “terrorist” because their oppressive governments actions and the only way to prevent this disaster of a human rights violation is to create a new era of rule in Iran. Although they can not do much, the average american can help by voicing their support for Iranian women through social media platforms or to vote for politicians that can push for the U.S to help bring change in Iran through military coups. This way the truth of their suffering can spread all around the world and hopefully spark a change for women’s rights in Iran and break them free from the chains that have been holding them down for nearly half a century.
As a whole Iran, especially in recent times, has had an issue with human rights violations due to the theocratic government. The women have not even been treated like regular humans ever since the revolution. This injustice will no longer be tolerated, it is time for all of you to stand up against this terrible treatment. Everyone needs to help in any way they can to overthrow the dictatorship in Iran. You must spread the word of this to others through social media and show your support for not only the women of Iran but also the whole country. Imagine living in Iran as a women. You wouldn’t be able to roam around the beautiful country freely and would be bound to strict laws against you. Do you want to go enjoy the soccer game this weekend with your friends?
Well sorry, only men can go. Do you want to wear shorts in the blazing summer sun? Too bad you must wear your hijab. This is just an example of the inequality and suffering of women in Iran and it is time for change with your help. This injustice is a terrible occurence that should never happen to anyone, no matter how good or bad they are. As most of you enjoy a life with little restrictions and inequality think for a second how you would feel if you lived a life like the 40 million women in Iran. As a persian I have seen so many of by close family members suffer at the hands of this misogynist government. It is the 21st century and ridiculous living situations like this should no longer exist. It is time to restore peace and justice for the country of Iran as a whole, especially the women. Equality is a right not a privilege.
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