On International Women’s Day, 30th anniversary of the Iranian people’s uprising,

the defeat of the 1979 Revolution and the Iranian women’s first mass demonstration against compulsory veil


In February 2009, Iranian women put behind thirty years of the Islamic Republic regime’s nightmarish and relentless multi-layered repression of them. What distinguishes this period from the previous periods and experiences of women is the unique nature, characteristics and dimensions of gender oppression and discrimination. After the defeat of the revolution and the victory of the Islamic regime, gender oppression and intensifying gender inequalities became a hallmark of the regime and one of the major preoccupations of the Islamic state. Gender oppression and inferior status of women was sanctified and the Islamic regime introduced an elaborate system devised, supported and implemented by the legislative, judicial and executive powers, special security and morality police corps for women, religious and semi-religious organisations. Over the past thirty years, the misogynist and patriarchal Shari laws have relentlessly produced and re-produced gender oppression and inequality. Misogyny and inferiority of women has been one of the Islamic republic regime’s ideological tenets and in order to implement them, they have relied on the Islamic laws (Sharia laws) using systematic violence against women, interfering in whatever is related to women and an all-encompassing system of sexual apartheid covering women’s lives both in the private and public spheres.

Against these across-the-board attacks of the last 30 years, women have not been submissive. On the contrary, they have found a deeper inspiration and resolve and have become one of the most dynamic political opponents of the regime. They have heroically showed a magnificent resistance – not only at the activists level but also on a broader scale - tolerating 70 lashes (calledTa'zirwhich means Islamic punishment) for each occasion of improper veiling, imprisonment, stoning to death and execution and have said a triumphant ‘No’ to the oppression and violence of a patriarchal religious state. The misogynist policies and practices have encircled women from various class, social, ethnic and religious backgrounds and no doubt have affected them differently depending on the protection that they can get using their class and status privileges but as the webs of the misogynist laws have penetrated all corners and aspects of women’s lives, the majority of women have been the targets of the poisonous and hostile attacks of the regime and have found themselves up against these laws and inevitably against the entirety of the regime. The famous feminist slogan of ‘Personal is Political’ has a special resonance for Iranian women. In Iran, women’s struggles for gaining their basic rights and demands are immediately considered as political as they challenge the ground rules of the regime:

·  When a woman rejects the compulsory veil (hejab), she is against the regime.

· When a woman wishes to choose her partner, either in a heterosexual or homosexual relationship, she is immediately against the regime and if she dares to have an extra-marital sexual relationship the ever-present spectre of stoning to death (an Islamic punishment) is above her head.

·   When a woman decides to keep her children after a divorce - which only in exceptional circumstances is granted to women - she inevitably engages in a dispute with the regime and it is natural that she would consider the regime as her enemy.

·   When a woman rejects the special Islamic privilege of polygamy, she is against the very sacred and fundamental law of the Shia branch of Islam.

·   When a woman registers her opposition to sexual apartheid, she declares an evident dislike for a religious dictum.


That is why women could not and did not keep quiet and did not accept these vicious laws obediently. In the past 30 years, in spite of the regime’s atrocious reppression, Iranian women have never ceased to say “No to Islamic veil, No to humiliation”. Only one month after the Islamic regime’s ascendancy to power, Khomeini issued his infamous decree about the compulsory veil. On 10 March 1979, Iranian women organised an epic march in Tehran against Khomeini’s decree and came out in thousands to register the first important political challenge to the regime. In those days, whilst a significant proportion of the population – including some political organisations – were captivated by the 1979 uprising and had illusions about the Islamic regime, the secular and radical women sensed the disaster and exhibited their mature political alertness and intelligence. The march was a significant milestone in the history of the Iranian women’s struggles and became a new beginning for their self-awareness and self-reliance.

In the course of their gruelling struggles against the Islamic regime, women experienced the deep interconnectedness of the struggles against tyranny on the one hand and against gender oppression and inequality on the other. In the era of the Pahlavi’s monarchic dictatorship, this link was largely denied and alongside their male counterparts, women political activists prioritised the anti-despotic and anti-imperialist struggles and relegated the struggles against patriarchy and gender inequalities to the future’s democratic society and ignored their own rights. After the defeat of the revolution and the Islamic state’s victory, the articulation of the two levels of struggle became more evident.

The Women’s Campaign, as part of the broader Iranian women’s movement, is aware that the majority of women in Iran who are ruled by a capitalist Islamic patriarchal regime are against it. The Women’s Campaign considers its main aim as fighting against all misogynist laws and the perpetrators of these laws, the Islamic regime itself. Like the majority of women in Iran, the Women’s Campaign is under no illusion to expect any reform or miracle handed down to women by either the so-called ‘reformist’ or other factions within the regime. The women’s experiences of the last thirty years strongly indicate that the regime has never showed any hesitation in suppressing women and keeping them in a subordinate position. Iranian women do not beg to the Ayatollahs to have mercy upon them and offer meagre favours within an Islamic framework. They know that in order to achieve their demands, they should dispose of the Islamic regime itself as the main obstacle.

The Women’s Campaign condemns any imperialist intervention in Iran including regime change from above, brewing velvet revolutions, military attack, economic sanctions or any other malicious manoeuvres. The Campaign sees itself amongst the ranks of those anti-war activists who have maintained their impenetrable opposition to the imperialist forces and the world capitalist order but are not prepared to close their eyes to the reactionary Islamic regime’s suppression of the Iranian people, workers’ movement, women’s movement, students’ movement and the progressive movements of the people belonging to the national minorities in Iran.

The Campaign also condemns the Islamic regime which uses the imperialist threats and the economic sanctions as an excuse to pauperise more people and suppress the movements of workers, women, students and the national minorities in Iran. We condemn the arrest, imprisonment and torture of women (and men) active in the women’s, workers, students and national minority movements who are all accused of working for the imperialist powers, and demand their immediate unconditional release. We consider ourselves as belonging to those progressive movements which say ‘No’ to both reactionary forces of imperialism and the Islamic regime and actively engage in supporting and strengthening the progressive and independent movements of the people of Iran against both the Islamic regime and any imperialist intervention.

On the international platform, the Women’s Campaign considers itself as part of the women’s struggles globally against the injustice and exploitation perpetrated by the cruel world capitalist order and the corrupt, reactionary and puppet states in different parts of the world and this has led to an unprecedented level of poverty, malnutrition, homelessness, deteriorating health, HIV/AIDS catastrophe, environmental disasters, forced migration, destitution, trafficking and prostitution of millions of women and children globally. As poverty is becoming more and more ‘female’, women do two-thirds of the world’s work and receive only 10 per cent of the world’s income, 75% of the young in Africa who suffer from AIDS are women and each year women and children spend 40 billion hours to get water, it is possible to imagine the mind-boggling dimensions of economic, political, social and gender inequalities. Poverty traps women in multiple layers of discrimination and we need to look at gender oppression and discrimination alongside other sites of discrimination and oppression.

·  We stand by the Palestinian women who are fighting heroically against the barbaric onslaught of the Zionist regime of Israel and simultaneously grapple with Hamas’s violent and religious patriarchy and a reactionary and dark horizon that they offer to women.

· We have engraved the acid-mutilated faces of Afghan schoolgirls, whose only crime is a desire to go to school, in our historical memory. We share their revulsion towards the increasing power of the Taliban and the ongoing presence of the occupying forces, which has intensified the barbaric acts of the Taliban violence against women.

· We condemn the rape of women of Sierra Leone, DR Congo and other war-torn parts of the word and despise the use of rape as a weapon of war.

·   We regard ourselves as part of the women’s struggles in Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa, US, Canada and other parts of the world for eliminating gender oppression and inequality and other socio-economic inequalities.

·  When Asyieh was recently hanged in Iran according to the Law of Ghesas (Law of Retribution and part of the Islamic Penal Code in Iran), we took her resentment and wrath against this stark barbarity and violence and carved it in our flag. We consider her Ghesas-based execution as a global disaster for humanity.

·  We do not want to put up with the war-mongering world order which requires attacking countries such as Afghanistan or Iraq in order to maintain its domination and survival. These wars and increasing militarization in the world have only resulted in abject poverty, destitution, devastation, illness, death and ever-growing numbers of women and children who experience life below the poverty line.

·  We are aware that the world capitalist system has only offered one per cent of the world’s property to us, who make up a half of the population on earth and this is a strong indication that this system works against us. Therefore, we do not believe that multiple layers of inequality can be wiped out within this system. We want another world!


The Campaign for abolition of all misogynist gender based legislation & Islamic punitive laws in Iran

8 March 2009

Stockholm, Sweden

Website: http:/www.karzar-zanan.com/

E-mail: Karzar2005@yahoo.com