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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

It's Back into the Kitchen for Relatively Free Women of Iran

Women are discriminated against by new Iranian laws, says Amnesty International

Draft laws aimed at boosting the birth rate in Iran reduce women to "baby-making machines", the rights group Amnesty International warns.

One proposal outlaws voluntary sterilisation and promoting birth control, while another makes it harder for women without babies to get jobs.

Amnesty says the two laws would set women's rights in Iran back by decades.

Until recently, Iran had been trying to restrict the country's population, with contraception subsidised by the state.

Complete reversal

Amnesty warns that banning voluntary sterilisation and blocking access to information about contraception risks greater numbers of unwanted pregnancies, forcing women into unsafe abortions.

A bit off topic, but, an unwanted pregnancy does not 'force' a woman into abortion. Abortion is almost always a choice, not a necessity.

Iranian Shiite women gather at the shrine of the Shiite Saint Imam Abdulazim
in Shahr-e-Ray, south of Tehran, Iran, 3 April 2014
The other bill cited by the organisation would make it more difficult for women to seek divorce, and instructs employers to prioritise married women with children.

"The authorities are promoting a dangerous culture in which women are stripped of key rights and viewed as baby-making machines," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa deputy director at Amnesty International.

"Instead of adding to the catalogue of discrimination Iranian women face, the authorities must recognise that women are human beings with fundamental rights, and rescind such discriminatory laws."

Another complete reversal

Speaking in April 2014 at the National Forum on Women Shaping Economy and Culture in Tehran, Mr Rouhani said: "We will not accept the culture of sexual discrimination."

Iranian President Rouhani on Women's Day, April 2014
with nearly invisible woman on his right
Mr Rouhani said women had an 'impressive presence' in all sectors of society

"Women must enjoy equal opportunity, equal protection and equal social rights," he said in comments that were broadcast live on television. As North American First Nation's people used to say - he is speaking with forked tongue.

"According to the Islamic rules, man is not the stronger sex and woman is not the weaker one," he said.

A handful of fashionable girls admire their own reflections in the window.
They wear tight leggings under their brightly coloured robes
pushing back headscarves and boundaries.
With the 1979 revolution, a confluence of access, education and a bad economy created a society where women now have independence, careers and husbands happy to help around the house with chores and children.

"The revolution was very good for women", says Farah, a 'Women's Studies' major.

Iran's genies were let out of the bottle. The same genies have gone on to become active members of theological schools and hold positions as judges and engineers. 

Women, Farah says, now outnumber men in their pursuit of graduate degrees, something that has created a societal problem. Most Iranian women won't dream of dating men who aren't their intellectual equal.

Could this be the reason for the reversal in policy against women? Could Iranian men be revolting against women who are smarter than they? Is Iran trying to stuff that genie back into the bottle? 

I would be very careful Mr Rouhani, you've betrayed Iranian women, and taking them back a few decades may be seen as a first step to taking them back a millennium as IS has done. Neither will be an easy task.