On September 2, the Iranian regime’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi officially appointed Ensieh KhazAli as the new Women and Family Affairs director, becoming the only female member of Raisi’s administration.
Nevertheless, the former heads of the directorate have repeatedly acknowledged that they had no executive power and that such minute defense of women’s rights would go nowhere in the mullahs’ patriarchal system.
KhazAli’s predecessor, Massoumeh Ebtekar admitted last month that ‘existing biases’ made her job difficult and that ‘there is a sense of discrimination against women’.
The daughter of Abolghasem KhazAli, a former member of the Assembly of Experts, Ensieh KhazAli was born in Qom in 1963. Following in her family’s political footsteps, her sister is part of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, heading the Cultural and Social Council for Women and the Family.
The KhazAli family was closely associated with Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the mullahs’ religious dictatorship in Iran. Ensieh KhazAli said that Khomeini had read her wedding sermon personally and set her dowry at 14 gold coins.
As the only member of Raisi’s cabinet tasked with defending women’s rights, affiliated with the regime’s misogynistic faction, she has admitted that despite her education and background, she has never been independent even in her private life.
She stated in an interview that, “men do not like their wives to be out of the house very much. My husband even set the limit of 15 hours per week for my work outside the house. My husband expects that I always accept what he says, and I always do so.”
As the only representative of women’s rights in the government, Ensieh KhazAli advocates for early marriage for girls. In a June 2017 interview, she said that she had married at 16, and her children did so, too.
In a conference held in 2015 at Az-Zahra University, titled ‘Family Sustainability, the Excellence of Society’, she urged that the ‘belief that getting married brings wellbeing to families’ must be promoted, adding that some women are not having as many children if any, because ‘they do not want to sacrifice their comfort for others and see children as obstacles to their interests’.
A former president of the Az-Zahra University, KhazAli implemented the ‘Moral Charter’, which represses female students under moral pretexts at the hands of the university’s security team.
During her presidency, Ensieh KhazAli expelled Atena Farghadani, a civil activist sentenced to prison for insulting the clerical regime’s officials and members of the mullahs’ parliament by drawing cartoons.
Angry at KhazAli for expelling her, Farghadani, a very talented student of Az-Zahra University, and the highest-ranking student in the field of art, designed a cartoon as a response to her expulsion. In a message aimed at KhazAli, she said, “In response to insulting and humiliating me by expulsion from the university, the only good gift I could give you was to design something dormant inside you for years!”