The Journey to the girls and women of the world
Heart to Heart with Iranian
am an activist from 8th March Women organisation (Iran-Afghanistan).
This organisation was formed on the basis of the radical left outlook and
feminist tendencies by a group of dedicated women in 1998. They set their goals
and started their struggle for the emancipation and equality of women in Iran and Afghanistan also
they linked there struggles to the struggles of women in other parts of the
would like to take you along as I travel through Iran with a look at the women’s
is a country that has gone through important political, social and economic
developments in the last three decades. In 1979 when the Islamic
fundamentalists seized the power, Iran’s population was 35 millions
but today Iran
has a population of 71 millions where 60% of the population is below 25 years
old and women constitute 35 millions.
the further development of capitalist relations in 20th century Iran became one
of the important strategic countries due to its political and economic
is one of the largest producers of oil and gas in the world and has the largest
labour force in the Middle East. These
specifications have linked the fate of country to the fate of the world
imperialist for over a century. With further and deepening integration of Iran into the
imperialist world, politically and economically, we can be certain that the developments
are not only influenced by the world’s situation but also it has an important
role to play in the developments of the Middle East
and political equation of the world.
the late 70’s Iranian people’s struggle to overthrow the regime of the Shah a
servant to western imperialists started. Women in their millions with the goal
of emancipation and equality took part in these struggles. The climax of these
struggles was the 1979 insurrection which led to the overthrow of the Shah’s
regime and seizing the power by Islamic clerics.
the Iranian women were the first to experience brutality of an Islamic
fundamentalist regime in late 20th century.
history and experience of our struggle and resistance and analysis of the
mechanisms of our oppression could play an important role in raising the
consciousness of the women’s movement in the world as a whole.
clerics who had just seized the power in order to realise their Islamic regime
as a model for the world; first of all targeted the women by announcing that ‘covered
woman with Islamic Hijab’ was the embodiment of the success of Iranian
materialise their goal, in March 1979, less than two weeks of establishing their
cleric rules they made Hijab compulsory for the women. At the very same days
they announced that women’s place is ‘at home’ and they must go back to their
homes because motherhood is the identity and the biggest task of women in
Islam. But millions of women had already stepped into the political life of our
society. It was impossible to send these politically awaked and conscious forces
back to their homes easily. In response to this announcement thousands of women
protested in historic demonstration of 8th March 1979. In this demonstration against
Khomeini and new Islamic regime, when thousands of women shouted ‘we did not
make revolution in order to step backward’ was in fact the birth of a women’s
movement that continued in the form of resistance and struggle against the
religious fundamentalist’s oppression and is continuing its struggle until present time.
In fact the Iranian women in this demonstration that continued for several days
declared that they were not going to give in to those oppressive and anti-women
laws of Islamic regime.
question of women and establishing its inferior position became an important subject
and characteristic of the religious state. Therefore the religious
fundamentalist state was established and consolidated only through a series of
acute and intense struggle on the position of women in the socials relations of
Republic by announcing compulsory Hejab as the symbol
of Islamic revolution, in fact declared the political and social program of the
Islamic state. Hejab became one of the main feature
of the social and power relation that protection and domination of private
ownership is its central part.
newly born cleric regime was faced with a wide spread protest against
compulsory Hejab and was forced to retreat at first, but
after a rein of repression and terror that led to the massacre of beginning of
80’s and suppression of a number of political trends in the society, including
left and communists, democrats, they managed to impose the decree of compulsory
law of compulsory hejab in fact was completed when
the punishment of ‘stoning to death’ of women was introduced. Hundreds of women
who had been force to sell their body due to economic and social difficulties
were rounded up and executed in order to give lessons to the others. Then women
were banned from becoming judges and juries, because according to Sharia law,
women are weak and their brains are incomplete, therefore they are not able to
judge. On the same basis two women witness become equal to a man. Polygamy became
the natural right of men. Women were stripped from their right to divorce and
all the right to divorce was given only to men. Man can divorce woman or keep
her in slavery for ever, because in the logic of Islamic rulers, god created
men as superior to women, and women are only an object to be possessed by her father
before the marriage and by her husband after the marriage.
man, who is suspicion of his wife of wrong doing or of disloyalty, is allowed
to kill her without any condition or legal prosecution. Father also has the
same right: right to kill. These are underlying laws governing murder of
hundreds of women in the hands of their husbands or their fathers and tens of
children in the hands of their fathers in the past thirty years. On the basis
of the teaching of the holly book women are the fields of men, and when ever
they refuse sex with their men, they must be punished. All these instructions
and religious beliefs against women have been implemented and backed by
punitive laws of Islamic republic.
were band to travel and work without the husband’s perior
permission. They were denied the right to custody of their children even if they
were succeeded a divorce. The homosexuals were penalised by death sentences and
the life of a woman was legally valued half of that of a man life. According to
tribunal laws if a man murders his wife, to prosecute the husband, the family
of the murdered wife must first pay a lump sum Of money to husband’s family.
‘Retaliation as a punishment’ or (Ghesas) widely is
practiced in Iran.
Ghesas was the form of prosecution that used to be practiced
during Pagan states then was integrated into the Islamic laws; for example when
a murder happens it is up to the relatives of the killed person who decide
whether to prosecute the killer or not. Alongside all these laws, a budget was
allocated to publicity and cultural institutions to promote the inferior
position of women in society through official educational system, cinema, art,
cultural and Media.
of such anti-women system has been disastrous for the position of women in Iran. Many
women artist arrested and executed under pretext of symbol of western cultures.
Many had to flee to western countries, many highly educated and specialist
women forced to stay at home. State support for violence and oppression at home
and legalisation of such violence against women paved the way for men to assault
and harass women at home. Huge increase in suicide and self burning, executions
and stoning to death, husband killing and so on in the past few decades are the
results of a religion fundamentalist political system.
are all one side of the coin but the other side of that is the thirty years
long women’s resistance and struggle in Iran. In the past three decade
there have been continuous battles between women in Iran and the Islamic
Republic regime; battles in many aspect and sphere, individually and
collectively and in various forms and ways. The struggles and resistance of
thousands and thousand of women political prisoners in Iran which is unprecedented
in the contemporary world is a living proof of their political awareness. They
refused to submit to a system where its important distinction is subordination
of women to men.
presence of outrages and rebellious women in the streets against Hejab control squads, the arrest of over 150000 women only
in the last summer due to so called violation of the code of Islamic cover all
points to the failure of Islamic systems in one of most important projects in
materialising the Islamic society. The Islamic regime expected that the youth
could be educated in a complete Islamic manner, because they had not seen 1979
revolution. They thought the new generation will submit to these anti women
laws and there would be no need for special military forces to impose them. But
the continuation of struggle of women, especially new- generation of youth
destroyed the dreams of Islamic Republic. New generation not only did not
submit to these types of control, but forced the regime to allocate even more
forces on the ground.
gender separation in educational system, 60% of students and higher educations graduates
are women, because they use every opportunity for progress and participation in
the society affairs.
basic demand of women for emancipation and freedom is tied to separation of
religion from state and elimination of religion in all spheres of social lives
in the society.
movement today is one of the most powerful movements in Iran and it has
had an important role in shaking the pillars of the power structure of Islamic
Republic and can play an important role in further political developments in Iran and the
region. At the present political
situation in Iran
and the world, the women’s movement has been confronted with a complex
situation. At present there are two so called feminist tendencies. These two tendencies
promote choosing either pro imperialist or pro Islamic Republic patriarchal and
anti women regimes. Any support to any of these two powers will practically and
inevitably lead to strengthening the other power. Unfortunately we have to say
that religion fundamentalists, either in the form of Islamic Republic
government or Islamic movements in the Middle East
have been able to find some allies among some progressive and left forces
around the world. These forces in practice should have supported and have been
allied with women’s movement and other progressive and popular movements in the
is needed for women’s movement in Iran now is to be able to safeguard
its independence and continue its struggle together with other social movements
for the overthrow of anti-women Islamic Republic regime. In this path women’s
movement in order to be strengthened need the support of progressive and
revolutionary forces around the word, and to wage the women’s cause in a world
scale as well.
8 March Women Organization
3 October 2008- 8th
Conference Frauenpolitischer Ratschlag