TEHRAN, 13 June (IPS) More than a thousand women, rich and poor, highly educated and illiterate took part at a large demonstration stage on Sunday in front of Tehran University, calling for amending the Constitution, allowing equality of rights with men.
Under Islamic canons on which the Constitution of the Islamic Republic is based, women are considered half of men in social rights. They are also banned from traveling outside the country without prior authorization from their husband, brother or father and also some political positions like becoming minister or president.
Under Islamic canons on which the Constitution of the Islamic Republic is based, women are considered half of men in rights.
While, under Islam laws, men can have four wives and many more “siqeh”, or temporary marriages that can last one hour or a life time, women have no rights to divorce and girls of nine years can be married.
The unauthorized meeting was at times interrupted by security forces, including female basijis and policewomen also trying to prevent other women to join the demonstration.
“As we were sitting, carrying posters and slogans, special units of women police backed by plainclothes policemen attacked us with violence, beating up peaceful demonstrators, but more women, including Kurds, joined us”, one of the organizers, Ms. Fariba Mohajer-Davoudi, a journalist and human rights activist told the Iranian women internet site.
Some witnesses told Iran Press Service that more than 2000 police force had surrounded the area, preventing people, mostly men to join the demonstration. “But apparently, the police had received orders not to use violence”, one source said.
This was the first time that such a large number of Iranian women, among them Ms. Simin Behbahani, a popular national poet and an icon of Iranian intelligentsia and literati, took part in such a protest movement, five days before presidential elections, due on 17 June 2005.
Reciting some of her poems, -- some of them, like “I Will Rebuild You, O My Country” becoming the favourite song of millions of Iranians in sign of rejection the Islamic Republic --, Ms. Behbahani, also a well known human rights activist fighting for the equal rights of women, was frequently interrupted by warm applauses from the public, joined also by a crowd of men.
Chanting slogans such as “Women freedom if freedom for all”, or “Anti-women laws must be dropped” or “Laws against women are the roots of despotism”, demonstrators demanded full equality with men abolition of all laws segregating women, abolition of laws giving men the right to polygamy and specially forced marriages, protection of women subject of conjugal and family violence, more protection for young women.
“How can one defend democracy and freedom without defending the legitimate right of women for equality?”, one demonstrator observed.
They also demanded that the Constitution of the Islamic Republic be in accordance with the Universal Charter of Human Rights and other international conventions protecting women’s rights.
How can one defend democracy and freedom without defending the legitimate right of women for equality?
Despite calls by the organizers to avoid political slogans, some groups of young women marched in the streets, chanting anti-regime slogans such as “Death to dictator”, Death to Despotism”, “Long Live to Freedom and democracy. Log live Iran’, eyewitnesses reported
Some of the organizers regretted the absence of presidential candidates, observing none of the eight runners supported the meeting while in their slogans they have included democracy and human rights in their political programs. ENDS WOMEN PROTEST 13605