Iran 's penal codes
Women's Forum Against Fundamentalism in Iran: E-Zan Newsletter
March 15, 2009
To our readers,
In honoring the International Women's Day, E- Zan brings you a message from President of WFAFI:The major UN theme for International Women's Day 2009 reads "Women and men united to end violence against women and girls."
It is noteworthy the emphasis on the collective participation of women and men in the struggle to eliminate violence against women. Even further, it is important to note that the participation of men is vital in fighting the oppression of women all together, be it physical or psychological. The Middle East, and in particular Iran is a place in which such a message is in great need to be encouraged. Much can be said about the relationship between the UN theme and the experience of Iranian women over the past thirty years.
Written within Iran 's penal codes #500, 610, and 618 which state "propaganda against the state" and/or "conspiring to commit or facilitate a non-violent offence against internal or external security of the nation" as well as "disruption of public order" are all considered punishable crimes.
As our organization have noted, Iranian women were met with the results of such codes when in March of 2007 police beat hundreds of men and women who were planning a rally in support of International Women's Day. They arrested scores of women and released them only after a harsh ordeal of interrogation, solitary confinement, and physical torture.
Even more shocking is penal code #220 which states "if a father -or his male ancestors- kill their children, they will not be prosecuted for murder."
In other words that a father or paternal grandfather has the right to murders his child or grandchild in which he will not face the death penalty and may be asked to pay only blood money, which may be waved by the court all together.
Our organization reported, in February of 2008, a case in which a father murdered his own daughter by way of stoning despite the pleas of her mother to keep their daughter alive. The father stoned his daughter and then shot her with four bullets because he claimed she had an illicit relationship with a man and her death would serve to "defend his honor."
The question of how Iranian women are to assert their basic human rights when a woman's destiny is ruled by her father in childhood and husband when she gets married, or a son when she is older is apparent. How can Iranian women achieve any rights when the un-Islamist , fundamentalist regime that claims power through religion is creating and protecting laws to keep patriarchy and oppression in place?
In Hillary Clinton's famous speech "Women's Rights are Human Rights" made in September 1995 in Beijing,China a line which deserves revisiting in this critical time is her statement that "If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, it is that human rights are women's rights-and women's rights are human rights. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely - and the right to be heard."
Iranian women have the right to be heard. From their history, Iranian women have learned the problems and challenges they are facing are not without solutions. The Women's Day protest in 2007 was planned and attended by both men and women. Men also endured the heinous treatment as they stood with their female counterparts in order to demand basic rights for women.
Human rights advocates are dragged into prison daily and yet when released continue to advocate for the rights of Iranian citizens. Political prisoners are executed, sometimes publicly, on a daily basis and yet remain undeterred in their resolve to shed light on Iran 's appalling neglect for basic human freedoms. While all these forms of resistance take place in Iran , it is clear that these activists cannot endue this struggle alone. As Iranian women press for their rights at home and risk their lives on daily basis, they look to Iran 's main democratic opposition movement, the PMOI, first and foremost, who has placed women in central positions of leadership and believe that the role of women is primary in the battle against fundamentalism. It is no wonder that this movement, led by an all-women-council, is feared the most by Tehran 's regime.
Now residing in Ashraf City , north west of Baghdad-Iraq, the movement is defusing threats and political plots by the Iranian regime on daily basis. If one were to study leadership skills of women, the PMOI offer a great level insight in to women's ability to successfully lead a political and social movement. For those who are serious about preventing the spread of fundamentalism and terrorism in Iraq and the Middle East , they must look to PMOI for lessons learned and guidance. This effort must start with full recognition of the group as an ally to Iraqi people and peace loving movements around the world. Such desire has been reflected in the support of 3 million Iraqi Shiite and 5.2 million Iraqis from all backgrounds and faith.
There is no doubt that women bring a new approach and hope when it comes to resolving social and political conflicts. In the case of Iran and Iraq , we must recognize the role of women, particularly those who have proven experience like the PMOI Faezeh Khalili, President of WFAFI