Women’s Situation In Iran
Women who worked as civil servants were systematically pressured by the administration to work part-time, apply for early retirement, or simply quit. Today, aspects of such discriminatory practices include the following: married women require their husband’s permission to apply for a passport; legally, a woman cannot leave her home without her husband's permission, even to attend her father's funeral; the legal age of marriage for women is nine years; and last but not least, a woman’s testimony in court is given half the weight of a man’s, which is especially harmful if the accused is a woman facing a man who stands as a witness against her. Thirty years ago, this monstrous transformation came to the women of Iran. Then, as now, the bravest women chose not to remain silent, and an ardent, intelligent, nonviolent women’s movement came into being. Today, in spite of the threat of death, torture, rape and imprisonment, this now unstoppable force is on the front lines of civil opposition in Iran.
The Islamic Revolution of 1979 undid the achievements of Iranian women, as the new state of Iran placed the traditional Shari‘a laws (Shi‘i jurisprudence) above all other laws. As a result, the social and political status of women quickly deteriorated. With passage of time, many of the rights that women had gained under the Shah, were systematically abolished through legislation in an attempt to encourage Iranian women to stay at home and play the traditionally-celebrated role of wife-mother.
The legalized deprivation of women of their human rights has led to a vast human and civil rights movement by Iranian women to change the discriminatory laws. This movement is the largest rights movement in the world. Iranian women hold protests, rallies, and sit-ins; they lobby legislators and resist discriminatory laws. The significance of Iran’s women’s movement lies in the fact that the extent of the success of this movement will determine the extent to which the Islamic Republic of Iran will reform itself. The women’s rights movement in Iran, if successful, will bring Iran democracy, human rights, and secular constitutionalism. It will advance human rights in Iran, and it is hoped, will take initiatives to ground Iranian laws based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
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