Iran Focus

London, 30 May - The women of Iran have been brutally repressed for decades and they are treated like second-class citizens. They have very little freedom and are even subject to specific dress codes. However, this does not mean that the women in Iran do not have a voice – quite the contrary, in fact.

In 1979, during the Iranian Revolution, thousands of Iranian women took to the streets to make their voice heard. However, not long later, the Supreme Leader at that time - Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini – began to show his true colours. His rule was very similar to that of his predecessor Reza Pahlavi. Women’s rights did not progress as they expected.

This attracted many women to join opposition groups, but many were arrested and thrown in jail. The situation became so precarious that some women, horrified at the torture, rape and brutal mistreatment of women, either left the country or left opposition groups.

Instead of laws regarding women’s rights moving to more modern times, the laws in Iran became more and more antiquated. Women in Iran have not had the protection of the law. The Family Protection Law of 1967 and 1973 that protected females in the country were immediately repealed when Supreme Leader Khomeini took power. This had some horrifying consequences, such as girls as young as 9 years-old could be forced into marriage.

Minors in Iran are often treated like adults and given the same sentences and punishments in prison. Worryingly, there have been many reports of 13 year-old girls being executed by Iran. Let’s be clear – a 13 year-old girl is a child. What kind of leadership executes children?

Women in prison in Iran are routinely raped and tortured to such an extent that they are traumatised for the rest of their lives. Many are unable to talk about what they have been through in prison and feel great shame even though they are the victim. Furthermore, in many cases, women have been threatened against speaking out about their experiences in prison and are told that their families are at risk of punishment or imprisonment.

The women of Iran today know that they should never have to experience any such abuse or injustice and are speaking out against the mullahs. The young women in particular are defying the authorities and the ridiculous laws against them. They know that they risk being the victim of an acid attack perpetrated by the so-called “morality police” or that they could be arrested, thrown in jail, tortured, fined, executed, and so on, but they are still speaking out against the regime.

They participate in peaceful gatherings and are more than aware of the situation of women around the world. They have access to the internet and understand that the situation in Iran is abnormal and particularly unfair.

There is a struggle for women everywhere, but the struggle in Iran is particularly harrowing. The men of Iran are also aware of the injustice of the situation and they too take to the streets with the women.