Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
In today’s Iran, clerics, who are at the administration of that country, are considering rights of women as counter to their so-called Islamic revolution. They are doing everything in suppressing the voice of women and continuing to repress them in various ways and means.
This is the third installment of my writings on Iran. In earlier two parts, I have described how clerics are working as mere pimps in selling their women to tourists as well trafficking in women to various nations under the garb of segheh [temporary marriage]. In the second article, I have described the ongoing trend of corruption in Iran. Now, this third installment is all about repression of women in Iran by the Mullah regime. I shall continue to write on other issues in Iran, which is based on my months of research on that country, which fell under rogue administration since 1979.
Iranian women has been playing important role in their society for centuries, till the country entered the dark age of Islamic rule in 1979. Now, in today’s Iran, women voices are once again gearing up, which shows a good sign that this would ultimately collapse the fanatic Islamic Mullahs from the country’s administration in near future.
The tragic plight of women in Iran today reflects not their acquiescence to the misogynist mullahs, but the degree to which the clerics find the oppression of women vital to their survival. This vengeance, equivalent by modern-day standards to gender-based apartheid, in turn demonstrates the need to keep, at all costs, an ever tighter lid on a potentially explosive social force that has frequently and profoundly affected various popular movements against the status quo in the past century.
Iranian women have always played an important part in their society, and their resistance is very much synonymous with their nation’s struggle for democracy and human rights, dating back to the dawn of the 20th century. They were the first women in the Muslim world to struggle to attain an equal say and standing in society. As William Morgan Shuster, an American who lived in Iran in the early 20th century wrote in 1912 in his book, The Strangling of Persia: “The Persian women since 1907 had become almost at a bound the most progressive, not to say radical, in the world. That this statement upsets the ideas of centuries makes no difference. It is the fact. It is not too much to say that without the powerful moral force of those women… the ill-starred and short-lived revolutionary movement,… would have early paled into a more disorganized protest. The women did much to keep the spirit of liberty alive. Having themselves suffered from a double form of oppression, political and social, they were the more eager to foment the great Nationalist movement…in their struggle for liberty and its modern expressions, they broke through some of the most sacred customs which for centuries past have bound their sex in the land of Iran.”
Women’s prominent role in social movements in Iran began long before the 19th century. With the spread of Islam to Persia, the interaction between Persian nationalism and Shiite Islam’s defiant outlook gave impetus to many movements which rebelled against the oppressive status-quo. Women actively took part in many of these movements, which surfaced from 11th to 15th centuries, including the Sanbad movement in Neyshabur, Moqane’ and Sarbedaran, in Khorassan province [northeast], Ostadsis in Sistan [southeast], and Babak in Azerbaijan, [northwest].
The rise to power of the Safavid Dynasty [1502-1736], which espoused a backward, rigid interpretation of Islam, particularly toward women, brought with it the demise of progressive movements, and for that matter women’s participation in the social setting.
The emergence of women’s movements in Europe and America in the latter years of the nineteenth and beginning of the 20th century revived the spirit of social activism in Iranian women, whose potential for defiance was far greater than that of their male counterparts. The first rebellion occurred exactly one hundred years ago, and is known as the “Tobacco Movement.” When in 1895, the Qajar monarch, Nasser Od-Din Shah, gave the exclusive rights for tobacco production and sale to the British firm, Rejie, the populace vehemently objected and boycotted the use of tobacco, forcing the king to annul the agreement. Iranian women were at the forefront of this resistance. At the peak of the protests, Amin Ol-Soltan, the Court- appointed chancellor, tried to convince and coerce the citizenry to end their rebellion. Hundreds of women charged forward, calling on their husbands to reject his pleas. Even within the royal court, the women rose up against the agreement, broke the hookah and joined the boycott.
In his book, The Tobacco Boycott, Ibrahim Taymouri writes: “Women’s perseverance in this movement was such that when the ban on tobacco was announced, women led the protesters who marched toward Nasser Od-Din Shah’s palace. As they passed through the bazaar, these women closed down the shops, igniting a city-wide strike.”
Historians write that when the throng of people reached the palace, the Qajar monarch sent one of his confidants to calm the women. His attempts at talking to the protesters failed, because the women continued shouting slogans against Nasser Od-Din shah. When, in a nearby mosque, the Friday prayer leader called on the marchers to disperse, angry women charged in and forced him to flee.
One woman, the tales of whose ‘audacity’ has been passed down through generations of Iranians, is Zeinab Pasha. Also known as Bibi shah Zeinab, she led the popular opposition to the Rejie agreement in Tabriz, capital of East Azerbaijan Province. Zeinab Pasha organized seven groups of armed women to parry government efforts to put down the rebellion. The seven groups under her command themselves led other groups of women. When government forces intimidated the bazaar merchants into opening their shops, Zeinab Pasha and a group of armed women, wearing the chador, re-closed the shops. Eventually, bowing to pressures from across the country, Nasser Od-Din shah cancelled the Rejie agreement.
The beginning of the Constitutional Movement marked the unprecedented participation of women as a major social force. As the movement grew, women’s democratic institutions grew with it. Although the Movement did not achieve its goals, it was nevertheless very important in propelling the women’s movement in Iran forward. Many pro-Constitutionalist intellectuals addressed the situation of women and their historical oppression. Simultaneous with attacks on the reactionary, feudalistic culture and social relationships, recognition of women’s rights became a subject of hot debate in the progressive media.
In its August 1890 issue, Qanoon [The Law], a monthly published in London, wrote: “Women make up half of any nation. No plan of national significance will move forward unless women are consulted. The potential of a woman aware of her human essence, to serve in the progress of her country is equivalent to that of 100 men.” Elsewhere, it wrote: “There are many cases of distinguished women surpassing men solely because of their abilities to reason and their wisdom. Their understanding of society’s meaning and privileges is far greater than men’s.” Such commentaries at a time when women were generally considered as the property of men sparked many egalitarian ideas.
The expansion of the press, itself an indicator of the growth of democracy and a new era in Iran, was accompanied by greater participation of women in social affairs. From 1905 to 1915, some 30 women journalists joined the media. Gradually, independent women’s newspapers were also published and played a significant role in diversifying public opinion, spreading the revolution and opening doors for women.
The role of women in the Constitutional Revolution began with their offers of logistical and financial support for the movement, their success at inspiring patriotism and pride at gatherings, and their participation in marches and demonstrations. Secret or semi-secret women’s councils and associations took shape in large cities and launched a series of organized activities to advance the cause. Activities pioneered by the more educated and enlightened women, gained momentum and women from all walks of life entered the social arena.
On December 16, 1906, Edalat [Justice] newspaper wrote the following on the role of women in the Constitutional Movement: ” The Honorable Seyyed Jamal Ad-Din Va’ez, addressing an enthusiastic crowd, said: Constitutionalism will not take shape without financial support. Everyone must contribute what he can. Suddenly, loud voices were heard among the women present. The impoverished women took off their earrings and offered them to advance this sacred movement. One of them told His Honor, `I have two sons who earn two Qarans [pennies] a day. From now on, I will give half of what they earn to any locality that you designate.'”
The renowned Iranian historian, Ahmad Kasravi, referred to an incident on January 10, 1906, in Tehran: The shah’s carriage was on its way to the home of a wealthy aristocrat, when it was attacked by a multitude of women marching in the streets, forcing it to stop. One of the women read a statement addressed to the king, saying: “Beware of the day when the people take away your crown and your mantle to govern.”
Women supported the newly established parliament and actively challenged the conservative factions and the clerics who had been elected as deputies. When the parliament decided to establish Iran’s national bank without seeking financial help from foreign countries, women enthusiastically raised money and donated their jewelry. In Azerbaijan, they took up arms and took part in the 1908 and 1909 movements.
On December 30, 1906, when Mozzafar Od-Din Shah signed the new constitution, women had a statement published in the parliament’s newspaper, calling on the government to initiate the education of women and set up girl’s schools. When the parliament did not go along with the suggestion, instead declaring that women had a right only to the kind of education that would prepare them for “child rearing and house work” and urging them not to engage in political and governmental affairs, women took the initiative, creating a network of different associations and setting up girls schools and women’s hospitals. By 1910, some 50 girl’s schools had been established in Tehran. That same year, women organized a conference on cultural affairs. The weeklies Danesh [Knowledge] in 1910 and Shokoufeh [Blossoming] in 1913 were the first publications by women. Women’s Letters, Daughters of Iran magazine, Women’s World, and The World of Women soon followed.
The first secret society of women was founded in 1907. In the same year, the first organized meeting of women adopted 10 resolutions against discrimination and called for state education for girls. The Association of Women of the Homeland and the Association of Patriotic Women were among the more influential women’s associations of the time. Shuster writes: “In Tehran alone, 12 women’s associations were involved in different social and political activities.” Through their members and activities, which included gatherings, these associations acted as a pressure group against the despotic regime and closely monitored political developments. Other active associations included the Association of Women’s Freedom, the Secret League of Women, the Women’s Committee, the Isfahan’s Women’s Organization, and the Assembly of Women’s Revolution.
Women’s role in the uprising in Tabriz was particularly noteworthy. When the Qajar king, Mohammad-Ali shah, shelled the parliament and constitutionalists were being gunned down, women in Azerbaijan province wrote Kasravi, “upheld the nation’s honor more than anyone else.” They were active on several fronts. They sent telegrams to other countries to raise international awareness and seek help. During the 11-month siege of Tabriz, women handled logistics, raising money, getting food from one bunker to the next, getting medicine to the wounded, preparing ammunition, etc.
One group of women also fought in the front lines, and other girls and women wore men’s clothing and fought alongside the men. “In one of the battles between Sattar Khan [the leader of the uprising] and the shah’s forces, the bodies of 20 women in men’s clothing were found.” A historian, living in Tabriz at the time, wrote that one of the bunkers was run by women wearing the chador14 and that he had seen a photograph of 60 Mojahedin women.
On November 29, 1911, Czarist Russia, with the approval of the British government, sent an ultimatum to the Iranian parliament: Shuster, the financial advisor to the government, must be expelled within 48 hours, or the capital would be occupied. A wave of protests erupted throughout the country. On December 1, 1911, the Association of Women of the Homeland staged a demonstration by thousands of women in front of the Majlis [parliament]. Shuster wrote that a group of some 300 women entered the parliament “clad in their plain black robes with the white nets of their veil dropped over their faces. Many held pistol under their skirts or in the folds of their sleeves. Straight to the Medjlis they went, and, gathered there, demanded of the President that he admit them all…. The President consented to receive a delegation of them. In his reception-hall they confronted him, and lest he and his colleagues should doubt their meaning, these cloistered Persian mothers, wives and daughters exhibited threateningly their revolvers, tore aside their veils, and confessed their decision to kill their own husbands and sons, and leave them behind their own dead bodies, if the deputies wavered in their duty to uphold the liberty and dignity of the Persian people and nation.”
In mid-December, when Russian forces reached Qazvin [140 km west of Tehran], the city’s League of Women called for help. Isfahan’s League of Women called on the provincial associations to arm their members and declared its readiness to resist against the Russian forces. It can be said with certainty that it was largely due to the activities of these brave women that the Constitutional Parliament resisted the ultimatum for more than a year.
Although the Constitutional Revolution brought real progress in Iran and the constitution subsequently drafted guaranteed certain rights of the Iranian people, it continued to deny women their rights. The wording of the electoral law adopted in 1906 unequivocally denies women the right to vote.
In 1905, when the first phase of the Constitutional Movement succeeded, the media remained silent about the denial of women’s rights. After Mohammad-Ali shah shelled the parliament during the second phase, however, women’s rights became a major issue of debate. With the victory of the Socialist Revolution in 1917, which ended the domination of Czarist Russia over Iran, a new wave of activism for women’s rights began. Many women and intellectuals, influenced by socialist thinking, joined the movement.
The advances brought about by the Constitutional Revolution were short- lived, however. The British conspired to foil the movement. Eventually, a coup by Reza Khan re-established despotism, which plagued Iran for the next two decades. Many democratic associations and institutions withered away.
Reza Khan assumed power through a coup d’état in 1920. He declared himself shah of Iran in 1925. Reza Khan’s goal of ending the tribal system and establishing a strong central government was backed by the many governments. The gradual transformation of Iran’s economic structure into a capitalist system required the growth of an urban consumer population and supply of cheap labor.
Between 1942 and 1953, the circumstances both of the Second World War and Iran’s domestic situation created a relatively open environment, offering Iranian women a golden opportunity to initiate activities within the Iranian political landscape. Although the administration of the late Dr. Mohammad Mossadeq, the only democratic government in contemporary Iran, was cut short, women made major gains during his rule. In 1952, women finally won the right to vote in the Municipal Councils. A new Social Insurance Code was ratified in 1953, which gave women equal rights with men and introduced maternity benefits and leave, and disability allowances for women, even though married.
In striving to consolidate his rule after the coup that overthrew the popular government of Dr. Mossadeq in 1953, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi dissolved the various women’s organizations and established the Organization of Iranian Women, appointing his sister, Ashraf, as its head.
In the 1960s, the shah intensified the political repression throughout the society, particularly targeting women. SAVAK, the notorious secret police, was given a free rein. Through a number of superficial and purely formalistic reforms, including the land reform and voting rights for women, the shah tried to champion the women’s cause. In truth, however, all the elections during his reign were sham. In 1963, the shah allowed a few women loyal to the court to enter the parliament.
Simultaneously, women entered the work force as cheap labourers, to better serve the interests of the ruling elite. To expedite their entry, the first Family Protection Law modified the absolute right of men to divorce in 1967. In 1975, the second Family Protection Law gave women equal rights in divorce, custody of children and marriage settlements, and granted limited rights of guardianship; it raised the age of marriage for girls to eighteen, recognized women’s equal rights with men to hinder their partners from undesirable occupations, and subjected polygamy to certain restrictions.
The agonies of Iranian women and the people of Iran began, when brute Mullahs seized power with Ayatollah Khomeini as the kingpin.
On February 3, 1984, Khomeini said: “Killing is a form of mercy because it rectifies the person. Sometimes a person cannot be reformed unless he is cut up and burnt….You must kill burn and lock up those in opposition.” To survive, the clerical rulers must kill the thirst for freedom in all human beings, or they will reject its monopoly on power. With its cruel massacres, stoning and hangings in public, the regime wanted to instill despair in the lives of all Iranians. For this reason, 100,000 Iranians, among them tens of thousands of women, have been executed and another 150,000 have been incarcerated, and subjected to 74 forms of physical and psychological tortures. While no sector of Iranian society was immune to the mullahs’ oppression, the sharpest edge of this misogynous rule’s savagery was directed at Iranian women.
Since 1979, the clerics have systematically launched one crackdown after another on women, arresting, beating, flogging and torturing tens of thousands on the pretext of combating mal-veiling, enjoining good and prohibiting vice. This terror is extended into every household through severe restrictions on women, and vicious punishments for infractions. Regardless of economic or educational level, ethnic or religious background, political or personal outlook, no Iranian family can escape the pervasive threat of violence to its female members.
As the U.N. Special Rapporteur on violence against women reported on November 22, 1994, certain practices and sanctions “which are violent towards women are justified by special legislation. The public stoning and lashing of women serve to institutionalize violence against women.”
Violence against women is the only sphere where there is no discrimination between men and women. If anything, there is a policy of reverse discrimination, and women are treated more viciously. The mullahs show a particular vengeance towards women who become politically active and join the resistance. Tens of thousands have been arrested on political charges and severely tortured and executed. Many have died under torture. One method is particularly revealing: the Pasdaran [Guards Corps] fire a single bullet into the womb of the condemned women political prisoners, leaving them to bleed to death in a slow process of excruciating pain. Even pregnant women have not been spared. Hundreds, including Massoumeh Qajar-Azdanloo, Azar Reza’i, Zahra Nozari, Nayyereh Khosravi and Parvin Mostofi, have been executed with their unborn children. The Iranian regime is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. According to article 6 of the Covenant, the execution of individuals under the age of 18 as well as pregnant women is prohibited.
Disregarding their international commitments, the mullahs have shown no qualms about executing women of all ages; from 13-year-old adolescents like Fatemeh Mesbah, Maryam Ghodsi-Maab, 16; Ezzat Mesbah, 15; Mojgan Jamshidi, 14; and Nooshin Emami, 16; to 70-year-old grandmothers like Ettesamossadat Karbasi; Arasteh Qolivand, 56; Soqra Davari, 54; and Massoumeh Shadmani, 50.
Maryam Ghodsi-Mo’ab, a 16-year-old high school student activist, was arrested and went through extreme torture in the southern city of Ahwaz. She was executed on October 1981. Her burial permit read: Islamic Republic of Iran Coroner’s Office “Burial Permit” This document, authorizes the burial of Maryam, daughter of Mohammad Kazem Ghodsi-Mo’ab, aged 16, whose death on 7th October 1981 resulted from eight bullets entering her chest, eight her back and one her head. [Executed by the Revolutionary Court]. Coroner – Dr. Pazhuheshi
Sediqeh Sadeqpour, a political activist, was arrested and severely tortured. She was released from jail when her legs became paralyzed, but later rearrested and again savagely tortured. Her eyes were gouged out and she was killed in Shiraz on November 4, 1985, when her throat was cut. She was 20 years old.
Mina Mohammadian was executed on February 29, 1987, on political charges. She was held in solitary confinement for eleven months prior to her execution. During that period, she went through forty interrogation sessions, during which she was subjected to the most horrendous tortures. She was repeatedly raped by the regime’s Guards. She was 22 at the time of her execution.
Women political prisoners are kept in so-called “residential units” [cement cages, 50 square centimetre], with their heads cramped down onto their knees, for months at a time. They are beaten regularly, up to 50 times a day. Another common torture of women political prisoners, besides systematic flogging, is suspension for hours from the ceiling by the hands, or upside down, by the feet. In some cases, the torture leads first to paralysis, then to the woman’s death. Nahid Shahrokhi- Mahalati, a 22-year-old teacher, was suspended from the ceiling for a prolonged period. She died under torture.
Exceptions are not made for foreign nationals. Annie Ezbar, a French nurse who had come to the assistance of the Iranian Resistance’s National Liberation Army, was captured in an ambulance with her medical equipment. Hashemi Rafsanjani, then the regime’s parliament speaker, acknowledged her arrest. After going through extensive torture, Mrs. Ezbar was executed.
According to a “religious” decree, virgin women prisoners must as a rule raped before their execution, “lest they go to Paradise.” Therefore, the night before execution, a Guard rapes the condemned woman. After her execution, the religious judge at the prison writes out a marriage certificate and sends it to the victim’s family, along with a box of sweets. In a written confession in January 1990, Sarmast Akhlaq Tabandeh, a senior Guards Corps interrogator, recounted one such case in Shiraz prison: “Flora Owrangi, an acquaintance of one of my friends was one such victim. The night before her execution, the resident mullah in the prison conducted a lottery among the members of the firing squads and prison officials to determine who would rape her. She was then forcibly injected with anaesthesia ampoules, after which she was raped. The next day, after she was executed, the mullah in charge wrote a marriage certificate and the Guard who raped her took that along with a box of sweets to her parents.”
The penal code subjects women to extreme penalties if they do not comply with dress codes laid down by the clerical establishment. In his final report on January 2, 1992, to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, Reynaldo Galindo Pohl, the Special Representative on the situation of human rights in Iran wrote: “… the Prosecutor General, Abolfazl Musavi Tabrizi, said that `anyone who rejects the principle of the `Hijab’ [dress code] is an apostate and the punishment for an apostate under Islamic law is death.'” According to Ressalat on January 6, 1987, Khomeini declared, “Hijab is a requirement, and those who reject it must be condemned to Takfir [excommunication].” It goes without saying that under the mullahs’ rule, Takfir translates into execution. The dress code, which also applies to women of the Christian and other minority faiths, violates the right of all Iranian women to freedom of conscience and belief.
Note  of Article 102 of the penal code on Ta’azirat [penitence] states: “Women who appear on streets and in public without the [prescribed] `Islamic hijab’ will be condemned to penitence of 74 strikes of the lash.” As reported by the state-controlled newspaper Kayhan on March 30, 1983, the regime’s Prosecutor General announced that if an improperly veiled woman is arrested, there is no need for a court, since the crime is established. Public floggings of women in the streets are common.
Vice squads regularly mount crackdowns against women; some include roadblocks to enforce the dress codes. On May 9, 1995, Agence France Presse reported that the regime’s security forces had arrested 100 female foreign nationals visiting Iran from the Central Asian Republics for ignoring strict dress regulations. According to The New York Times, on June 23, 1993, “More than 800 women were arrested for dress code violations, with many being detained for wearing sunglasses, witnesses said, a Western European diplomat was said to have been beaten on Sunday for refusing to allow the authorities to search his car.” The U.N. Special Representative on the human rights situation in Iran reported in 1992 that “165 improperly veiled women were arrested on June 7, 1992, in Tehran by security agents implementing a new plan to combat social corruption.” Reuters quoted the Islamic Republic’s news agency, IRNA, on April 23, 1991, as reporting that Tehran police had detained 800 women in two days for flouting the dress codes.
In some occasions, the punitive action leads to the death of the woman. On September 2, 1993, in Tehran, Bahareh Vojdani, a 20-year-old girl, was stopped by the vice squads for mal-veiling. She resisted the Guards’ condescending behavior and the public reprimand. The Guards shot and killed her on the spot in broad daylight, as onlookers watched.
According to the regime’s figures, in 1992, “113,000 persons were arrested and referred to the judicial authorities on charges of dissemination of moral corruption and mal-veiling.” The harassment is not limited to arrests. The regime’s officials also send motorcycle gangs of club-wielders into the streets to attack women, sometimes slashing their faces with razor blades or throwing acid into their faces. On June 11, 1994, Agence France Presse quoted the Iranian press in a report on security officials’ warning to women to avoid “improper smiles” in the streets. They were also instructed to fully observe the dress code before “looking out the windows” of their homes. In some cases, the fine for murdering a tribal woman in southern Iran for crimes of honor is as low as US$ 6.20.
Besides the “normal” penalty of 74 lashes, female government employees who violate the dress code are liable to temporary suspension from work for up to two years; expulsion and suspension from the public service, and indefinite deprivation of any employment in the public service. According to the state-controlled daily, Ressalat, on May 23, 1991, the head of the Security Forces’ Politico-Ideological Bureau announced: “Employees whose wives appear in public improperly veiled are considered to have violated the administrative law.” This means that the woman’s husband is also summoned at his workplace for administrative violation. In this way, the husband, too, becomes part of the “vice patrol,” controlling the behavior of his wife for fear of losing his job.
The stoning of women is one of the more savage, and revealing aspects of the mullahs’ rule in Iran. This vicious punishment of women is without precedent in Iran’s recent history, and is not to be found anywhere else in the world. Since the inception of the mullahs’ rule, hundreds of women of various ages have been and continue to be stoned to death throughout Iran.
What makes this hideous crime more abhorrent is that these crimes are carried out under the name of Islam.
The penalty for adultery under Article 83 of the penal code, called the Law of Hodoud is flogging [100 strikes of the lash] for unmarried male and female offenders. Married offenders are liable to stoning regardless of their gender, but the method laid down for a man involves his burial up to his waist, and for a woman up to her neck [article 102]. The law provides that if a person who is to be stoned manages to escape, he or she will be allowed to go free. Since it is easier for a man to escape, this discrimination literally becomes a matter of life and death.
Interestingly, Article 6  of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Iran has ratified, states: “Sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes in accordance with the law in force at the time of the commission of the crime.” Offenses for which the Law of Hodoud provides the death penalty do not involve murder or serious bodily harm, constituting the “most serious crimes”.
Article 104 of the Law of Hodoud provides that the stones should not be so large that a person dies after being hit with two of them, nor so small as to be defined as pebbles, but must cause severe injury. This makes it clear that the purpose of stoning is to inflict grievous pain on the victim, in a process leading to his or her slow death.
Anecdotes of this brutal process reveal ever more dimensions of cruelty. Most of the time, the regime’s authorities force the victim’s family members, including children, to watch the stoning to death of their loved one, and in some instances, even when the woman miraculously managed to escape, contrary to the regime’s own law, she was recaptured and either stoned again or killed on the spot.
On August 10, 1994, in the city of Arak, a woman was sentenced to death by stoning. According to the ruling of the religious judge, her husband and two children were forced to attend the execution. The woman urged her husband to take the children away, but to no avail. A truck full of stones was brought in to be used during the stoning. In the middle of the stoning, although her eyes had been gouged out, the victim was able to escape from the ditch and started running away, but the regime’s guards recaptured her and shot her to death.
In October 1989 in the city of Qom, a woman who was being stoned managed to pull herself out of the hole, only to be forced back into it and stoned to death. In justifying the murder, Qom’s Chief Religious judge, Mullah Karimi, elaborated to Ressalat newspaper on October 30, 1989: “Generally speaking, legal and religious decrees on someone condemned to stoning call for her stoning if her guilt was proven on the basis of witnesses’ testimonies. Even if she were to escape in the middle of the administration of the sentence, she must be returned and stoned to death.”
On December 7, 1994, Reuters quoted a state controlled newspaper, Hamsharhi, on a married woman who was stoned to death in the city of Ramhormouz, south-western Iran. Ressalat, March 1, 1994, read: “A woman was stoned to death in the city of Qom.” Kayhan of February 1, 1994, reported that a woman named Mina Kolvat was stoned to death in Tehran for having immoral relations with her cousin.
The U.N. Special Representative on the human rights situation in Iran reported to the U.N. General Assembly in 1993: “On November 1, 1992, a woman named Fatima Bani was stoned to death in Isfahan.”
Abrar reported on November 5, 1991, that a woman was stoned in the city of Qom charged with immoral relations. According to Kayhan, August 21, 1991, a woman charged with adultery by the name of Kobra was sentenced to 70 lashes and stoning. The verdict was carried out in the presence of local people and district officials.
Jomhouri Islami wrote on March 11, 1991, that in Rasht [northern Iran], “Bamani Fekri, child of Mohammad-Issa, was sentenced to stoning, retribution, blinding of both eyes and payment of 100 gold Dinars. After the announcement of the verdict, she committed suicide in prison.”
Ressalat reported on January 16, 1990, that a woman was stoned to death in the city of Bandar Anzali [northern Iran]. Ettela’at reported on January 5, 1990: “Two women were stoned publicly on Wednesday in the northern city of Lahijan [northern Iran].” Jomhouri Islami, January 2, 1990: “Two women were stoned in the city of Langrood [northern Iran].”
Kayhan wrote on July 31, 1989: “Six women were stoned to death publicly in Kermanshah on charges of adultery and moral corruption.” Kayhan, April 17, 1989, quoted the Religious judge and head of the Fars and Bushehr Justice Department as sentencing 10 women to stoning to death on prostitution charges which were immediately carried out.
Tehran radio, reported on March 6, 1989, that a woman was stoned in Karaj for committing adultery.” Kayhan, October 4, 1986, reported that a 25-year- old woman named Nosrat was stoned to death in the city of Qom. She died after an hour of continuous stoning.
On April 17, 1986, a woman was stoned to death in the city of Qom. Prior to being stoned, she was whipped in public. In July 1980, four women were simultaneously stoned to death in the city of Kerman.
The brutality is not limited to stoning. For example, in late May 1990, in the city of Neyshabour [north-eastern Iran], a woman charged with adultery was thrown off a 10-story building. The execution was carried out before the public, and the victim died on impact.
The regime’s duplicity, when it comes to publicizing the news of such Byzantine atrocities, is very telling. Inside Iran, they are trumpeted with great fanfare, but when it comes to the international arena, officials brazenly deny their methods. In an interview with Le Figaro on September 10, 1994, Rafsanjani was asked, “Are women accused of adultery stoned in Iran?” He replied: “No, no such thing exists in Iran. This has been fabricated to damage us.”
“Women have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. The enjoyment of this right is vital to their life and well being and their ability to participate in all areas of public and private life,” states the Draft Platform For Action for the Fourth World Conference on Women.
Health and hygiene have reached crisis proportions in Iran, and women are particularly affected by the consequences. The mullahs have devoted fewer and fewer resources to women’s health, regardless of their special needs, especially during the maternity period. Attempts to segregate what limited health facilities are available have aggravated this situation. Based on United Nations statistics, Iran is among only a few countries in the world where more young women die than young men. In the 15 to 22 age group, 25 girls and 20 boys die out of every 1,000 young Iranians.
According to Abrar, a state-controlled daily, of March 30, 1989, for every 1.5 million residents of the rural areas of Fars Province [southern Iran], there is only one gynaecologist. Likewise, there is only one for every 600,000 residents in rural areas of Kermanshah Province [western Iran]. Another daily, Jomhouri Islami, reported on October 16, 1988, that in the town of Faresan, [southern Iran], 25 percent of all deliveries end in the death of the mothers due to shortages of hospitals for women. A Majlis deputy from the north-eastern city of Ahar, acknowledged in July 1988: “Despite its size, the city of Ahar does not have even one gynaecologist. We have been witnessing the deaths of pregnant women and their babies becoming orphans.”
According to Abrar, April 28, 1993, hospitals will gradually be segregated. The Ministry of Health and Medical Education seeks to gradually separate women’s wards and women’s hospitals from those of men. This would make the scarce medical facilities for women even scarcer, compounding their problems.
The eight year Iran-Iraq war [1980-1988] had a devastating impact on Iranian society. After 1982, when Iraqi forces pulled back behind internationally recognized borders, a just and comprehensive peace was within reach, but the Khomeini regime protracted the war until 1988, as the main means of maintaining its grip on power. The tangible result on the Iranian side alone was two million dead or wounded, several million refugees, 1,000 billion dollars of economic damages, the destruction of 50 towns and cities, and the devastation of 3,000 villages.
During the war, women were urged to send their loved ones to the war front – sell all their belongings and donate them to the mullahs’ war chest, and even participate in such gruesome tasks as searching through the corpses and blood-drenched clothes of victims, piecing them together, and washing and burying them.
As the state-controlled daily, Jomhouri Islami, reported on September 18, 1986, according to the regime’s view, “A woman with character is a woman who sends her husband to the front, and then escorts her husband’s corpse [in his funeral procession]. After she has escorted her husband’s corpse, she helps behind the lines.”
In an interview with Tehran radio on November 28, 1989, Khomeini’s son, Ahmad, described the kind of woman officially promoted as ideal: “While little has been said about the Bassiji sisters, one cannot describe their sacrifices. They sent their sons, husbands and brothers to the fronts, then washed their blood-drenched clothes [after they were killed].”
Kayhan, September 24, 1987: “Mother Beygoum is designated to separate the pieces of flesh and bones from the clothes of a [dead soldier] and put them in a plastic bag. Another mother washes these pieces of flesh and bones and buries them.”
But the misery did not end with the hostilities. This role, designated to women, has continued ever since. Kayhan, November 21, 1994: “The aging, frail woman was sitting outside the entrance of Alamal Hoda Base. With her tearful, poor-sighted and weak eyes, she was searching in the blood- stained military uniforms of the combatants of this land.”
The social consequences of this war among its primary victims, women and children, went unnoticed. Since it was very difficult for a widow to provide for herself and run a family in Iran’s highly patriarchal society, multitudes turned to prostitution as the only means to survive. According to the Associated Press of July 21, 1989, the arrest of a war widow charged with prostitution [which could end in a death sentence] caused a national scandal, because the woman had prostituted herself as a last resort to support her family.
A confidential report to the mullahs’ parliament in 1991 said the sudden surge in the rate of suicide among women throughout Iran was due in part to the pressures exerted on the wives of the Guards and soldiers who had served in the eight-year war with Iraq and who suffer from psychological disorders. The report pointed out that the most severely affected were men who spent time in the war as teenagers, when they had killed or captured scores of people or witnessed sexual intercourse with animals on the battlefield. The women suicides pointed to the psychological imbalance of their husbands as the sole reason for their decision to kill themselves.
Scores of war widows also turned to drug dealing as a means of survival, often becoming addicted to drugs as well. According to the regime’s figures, 61% of women prisoners are jailed for drug-related offenses.
Girl children suffer from the worst conditions in Iran today. According to the clerical regime’s rules and regulations, a girl child can virtually be bought or sold with the consent of her male guardian. Article 1041 of the Civil Code provides that “Marriage before puberty is prohibited. Marriage contracted before reaching puberty with the permission of the guardian is valid provided that the interest of the ward is duly observed.”
It has become common practice to sell or force very young girls to marry much older husbands, giving rise to all sorts of social ills. Adineh magazine, Summer 1991: “An eleven-year-old girl was married off to a 27-year-old man. The father, who had seven daughters, received US$300 for his consent. The morning after the marriage ceremonies, the girl was taken to hospital suffering from severe lacerations to her genitals.”
The state-controlled daily, Ressalat, reported on December 15, 1991, that due to extreme poverty and the absence of the most basic facilities, the deprived people of northern Khorassan sell their young girls for up to 100,000 Rials [US$33]. The buyers, who are mostly from Gonabad, northeast Iran, take the girls away and put them to work on farms and in workshops. In the province of Sistan/Balouchestan, south-eastern Iran, girls eight to 10 years old are sold by their addicted parents for 12,000 rials [US$4].
The confidential report of the regime’s parliament, September 2, 1992, on a sudden surge in suicide among women states that girl children as young as 10, instead of spending their days playing with other children, were being forced to marry men three to four times their age. Suddenly finding themselves faced with a mountain of problems beyond their capacity, they were led on numerous occasions to commit suicide.
Note  of article 1210 of the Civil Code states: “Age of puberty for a boy is at 15 full lunar years and for a girl is at nine full lunar years.”
Article 48 of the Penal Code of 1991 provides that children are free from penal responsibility. Note  of the same article defines a child as a person who has not reached the age of legal puberty. This means that a nine-year- old girl can be punished as an adult by flogging, execution and even stoning. The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Summary Executions indicated in his 1992 report that four minors, 16 and 17 years of age, who were accused of taking part in an anti-government demonstration, had been executed.
Girl children are abused in the labor force as well. Girls as young as four are used in the brick manufacturing, carpet weaving, textile and clothing industries. Kayhan, October 26, 1992: “Several 12 to 13-year-old children work in factories near Tehran.” On November 22, 1994, Tehran radio quoted the Deputy for Health Affairs of the regime’s Ministry of Health and Treatment as saying: “There are more than 5 million girls, 10 years old and older, who work at carpet workshops throughout Iran. Some of them have contracted various diseases like anthrax, deformed dorsal vertebrae, blindness, deformed knee joints, inflammation of finger joints, infection of gums and teeth and weakness of the legs.”
Nor are the children immune to the despair which the regime propagates to society at large. Salaam newspaper reported on September 8, 1992: “Nine- year-old commits suicide because of poverty.” Ressalat wrote on January 8, 1992: “In one high-school in Tehran, three girls committed suicide by throwing themselves off the top of a building in a matter of 10 days. Investigations revealed that two teachers from the Educational Affairs Bureau made lengthy speeches every morning on the futility of worldly life. They even took the students to Behesht-e-Zahra [Iran’s largest cemetery in southern Tehran], and had the children lay down the graves.”
In recent years, malnutrition has evolved as a major problem for Iranian children, in particular girls. According to Salaam newspaper, by the year 1992, more than 40,000 students of Ilam province, i.e., one fourth of the total, had contracted serious diseases and their lives were endangered due to destitution and mal-nutrition.
According to Kayhan on January 22, 1992, out of 1.1 million elementary students who were medically examined, more than 610,000 of them, i.e. 60 percent, had some sort of disease. Of these, 190,000 students had contagious diseases and more than 12,000 had psychological ailments.
Despite such figures, on April 26, 1995, the regime’s parliament passed a bill banning imports of powdered milk and baby food. These items can only be purchased by prescription from pharmacies. The mullahs have cited austerity measures to save foreign currency as the reason for this callous decision, which only aggravates the mal-nutrition of Iranian children, in particular infants.
Iranian regime is continuing various forms of tactics in repressing women. On the other hand, it is apply harsh method in suffocating those female voices, which are heard in demand of ensuring rights for them as well liberating the country from the dark age of Mullah’s rule.
Nobel Prize winning Iranian poet Shirin Ebadi in an interview with The Guardian on October 6, 2009 said, “Iran’s women are not afraid.”
We have the hope with Ms. Ebadi that, Iranian women will ignore the bloody red-eyes of the Mullahs. They will continue their battle against this type of horrific rule. And one day, they will win, thus making an end to the dark era of Mullah’s rule, which was enforced on them in 1979.
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