Iran makes war on 'uppity' women who demand rights

Elham Gheytanchi:

ON Oct. 15, the Iranian Ministry of Information arrested Esha Momeni, an Iranian-American student at California State University/Northridge. To this day, she is trapped in Iran by officials who won't let her leave.

She had gone there to make a documentary about women's-rights activists - at least 50 of whom have been arrested in the last year, the latest three on Friday in Tehran.

Esha and the activists are charged with "endangering national security" as "agents of Western powers" - a routine charge against human-rights workers in Iran. The regime plainly fears that a velvet revolution is underway; to prevent a mass uprising, it has been imprisoning civil-society activists with exactly this charge - participating in a revolution that hasn't happened.

Yet Iran's women's-rights activists are engaged only in a grassroots social movement - the One Million Signature Campaign, which this year received the prestigious Simone de Beauvoir Award.

The campaign's goal is merely to change Iranian laws that discriminate against women. The members - all Iranian citizens - go to public places to first discuss ordinary people's experiences with unjust gender practices and laws and then gather signatures on a petition asking parliament to change those laws.

The activists' demands are minimal: They seek incremental (but irreversible) changes in laws that now consider women to be second-class citizens. The goals include equal rights to divorce and child-custody; equal pay for equal work, and equal inheritance.

This is not a revolt against Islam, or Iran's Islamic Republic - but only a fair and more-inclusive interpretation of Islamic laws. Many clerics in Iran support this cause.


Have you heard any left wing feminist raise concerns about the treatment of women in Iran? How about Pakistan where they like to throw acid on women who seek an education? It is hard to find any concern for the burka clad among the women's studies crowd. They hated George Bush too much to acknowledge what he had done for women in Afghanistan. Will Obama show concern for the women of Iran when he talks unconditionally to the religious bigots in charge? Don't hold your breath.


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