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DOIW on International Women’s Day 2022

No to Violence Against Women

In Iran, 43 years of theocracy intent on justifying its medieval outlook, passing misogynistic laws, and then normalising their practice in the society has brought with it violence in many forms. Legislation that degrades women as second-class citizens has culminated in the violence that is the promotion of child marriage – one of the most destructive outcomes of this regime’s rule.

In recent months ever more vicious methods of violence against girls and women have started to make disturbing spectacle in the media. A 17-year-old teenager, beheaded by the man she had been forced to marry at the age of 12, who displayed her severed head in the streets after the atrocity is one of the latest victims. As an example, according to human rights organisations the number of deaths in Kurdish cities in Iran, have seen a 30% rise in the murder of women. In the last year 41 women have been murdered, mostly by a male relative. At least two women were killed for having refused an offer of marriage. Last year at least 94 women, in Kurdish cities, took their own life. 22 were girls under 18 years of age, and 3 were under 13 years old.

The theocratic regime claims that ‘gender equality is contrary to Islamic law and rules and is one of only four in the world that has not joined the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

The regime’s laws have deprived girls and women of the right to education, inheritance, custody of their children, choice of spouse, and very importantly equal rights to employment opportunities. The economy is devastated by years of privatisations and corruption, a rentier economy where political and economic power lies with parasitic strata connected to the regime, exacerbated by crippling US-led sanctions. Poverty has soared, workers’ labour going unpaid for months has become commonplace, and zero-hour contracts have replaced any more secure posts. In such conditions women’s access to viable employment has become even more limited.

Recognising the destructive consequences of women’s lack of access to employment,

in the early years of the twentieth century, Clara Zetkin wrote in the magazine “Equality”, organ of the International Socialist Organization of Women, “Women’s employment allowed women to stand on their own two feet economically and to break the economic bond that made them [male] dependent”. In Iran, restrictions, and discrimination against women in education and employment has perpetuated poverty and hardship for women and their dependents.

The regime’s medieval and reactionary nature and its violation of women’s human rights is evident in the recently ratified Law on Population Youthfulness, Forced Childbearing, and the Prohibition of Abortion, which makes it a crime for women to control their own bodies.

Despite all the restrictions and repressions in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Iranian women continue to make their powerful presence felt in social, economic, scientific, and artistic fields, as well as in sports and media. Women are active in all areas of struggle, in the strikes of the contract workers of oil and gas industries in June 2021, the strikes of the Haft Tappeh sugar cane mills, to the farmers’ protests at water shortages in July 2021, in the protests in Isfahan, Khuzestan and Lorestan, (central, south-western, and western Iran), and in actions by environmental protections activists. Their presence in the protests of 1996 and 1998 exacted great human cost but has not deterred women from taking their rightful place in the protest movement.

Over the past year, the arrests and court rulings against women, trade union and labor activists, the media, students, and even against the families of victims and plaintiff mothers have continued. Women such as Zeinab Jalalian and Maryam Akbari Monfared continue their resistance in prisons alongside other fighters for social justice. The mothers of Khavaran (the victims of mass executions) and the plaintiff mothers during these dark years of tyranny, not only carry the banner for their slain children, but are themselves pillars of the struggles of our people against dictatorship and have an important role in the general protest movement of our country. Iranian women know that by organizing and linking their legitimate demands with the demands of the popular movement and in action with the popular forces, they can pave the way for fundamental and democratic change.

Our region has seen violence in the form of foreign occupation and war, devastating the lives of millions of women, men, and children, depriving them of a future, Iran-Iraq war, occupation of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. Today we are acutely aware of further bloodshed by a new war, this time in Eastern Europe. The people of Ukraine and Russia must not become victims of further bloodshed. The war in Ukraine which has displaced a large part of the population in Ukraine must end immediately.

On 8th of March, we reaffirm our mission for peace, freedom from exploitation and for social justice.

Greetings to all political prisoners! Long live the struggle of Iranian and world women for equality, the elimination of gender discrimination and oppression, and for the protection of the environment!