Saturday, November 17, 2012

Iran Contemplating Law To Restrict Women's Travel

Iran is taking giant steps backwards when it comes to women's rights. Not that women have had much since the Iranian Islamic Revolution in 1979 relegated them to third class citizens. Granted, up until recently they haven't had it as bad as some of their Muslim sisters in places like Saudi Arabia or hell holes like Afghanistan and Yemen- where women are non-entity's completely covered up and separated from the men folk- but they're being pushed in that direction.

Iran recently banned women from 80 university courses,  and is now trying to control their rights to travel outside of the country without the approval of a male family member. A law that is being considered by the 290-seat Majlis will require single women under 40 to get permission to travel abroad from either their father or male guardian. Currently, only single women (and men) under the age of 18 need  permission from their fathers to obtain a passport, while married women must get permission from their husbands. But that's about to change if the lawmakers get their way.

Since women were such a major part in pro-democracy, Green Movement a few years back, it seems the government is doing what it can to diminish the power of women by attempting to control and place further restrictions on their lives.  

Human rights lawyer and Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi told RFE/RL's Radio Farda that Iran's interpretation of Shari'a law puts girls and women at a distinct disadvantage.

"According to our laws, if a 9-year-old girl commits a criminal offense, she will be tried and punished exactly as a 40-year-old person would," Ebadi says. "But if she wants to leave the country she is required, until the age of 40, to get permission from her father [for a passport]. If her father is deceased, she has to get permission from a judge."

Iran's civil code overwhelmingly favors fathers and husbands in all personal matters related to marriage, divorce, inheritance, and child custody.

Girls may be legally married as early as 13, and some lawmakers argue the age may, under Islamic interpretation, drop as low as 9. All women require permission from a male guardian to marry, regardless of their age.

Under Iranian law, women are also strictly compromised in terms of rights to compensation and giving legal testimony.

They are also bound by a strictly observed Islamic dress and conduct code, which forbids casual contact with the opposite sex and ordains that a woman must keep her hair and body covered in public.

Such laws are often used as a pretext to crack down on political opponents.
There are rights activists who are trying to do their part to gain more freedom for women, but they often wind up in jail. But there have been a few small wins.

One campaign claims to have reduced the number of women facing death by stoning for convictions of prostitution or adultery.
Another, the 1 Million Signatures campaign backed by Ebadi, has helped call attention to the stark legal discrimination against women in Iranian laws.
Ebadi, who now works in London after fleeing Iran amid rising harassment, says the rights movement has caused discomfort among Tehran's ruling establishment.
If the people don't somehow manage to oust the ruling Mullahs, it's only going to get worse for women there.

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