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August 08, 2003

Joining CEDAW
Elnaz Alipour  [info|posts]

cedaw.jpg Last week, after a year of anticipation, the Iranian parliament passed a bill to join the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The question is: is this convention going to do any good for Iranian women?

Most of us agree that joining CEDAW is not going to remove the discriminatory laws affecting the everyday life of Iranian women. It's not going to pave the way for them to take over more key positions or change the way they are treated in the society, let alone in their own homes. Nonetheless, I think there are certain ways that joining the convention can help women.

The answer lies in the arguments of the parliament members opposing the bill. They didn't oppose joining CEDAW on the basis of any of its articles, since they have been taken care of by the very ambiguous condition that no article or amendment opposing Islam is accepted by the Iranian government (Sounds familiar?*). Conservatives were attacking CEDAW on the basis of one and only one important issue: its very spirit. They argued that according to this convention, men and women are considered equal, and Islam doesn't recognize this equality. (In order to be PC, they also argued that what Islam recognizes for women is far better and more "natural", which is, quite frankly, complete nonsense).

I think this is where any benefit for the Iranian women's rights movement is going to be. Joining this convention can mean more foreign pressure on the Iranian government on issues regarding women's rights. Some even speculate that the fact that the bill was put on the agenda of the parliament less than a month after Mehdi Karrubi, the parliament speaker, asked female MP's to stand patient and not push for the bill, was because of the current state of the region and enormous pressure on the Islamic Republic on issues of human rights.

Even if the Council of Guardians rejects the bill (and it most probably will), I believe the fact that this issue has been brought to the spotlight in a time when even the reformists didn't want to take a risk on this bill—some found it not quite urgent—can give a new momentum to Iranian women in the quest for their rights.

* If you glance through the Iranian constitution, or any other law regarding essential freedoms, you'll find that every single one of them ends with the phrase "as long as it's not against Islam (or the foundations of the Islamic Republic)". This simple phrase has made it possible for the conservatives in the judicial system and the notorious Council of Guardians to deny people's basic rights, to censor the press, and to block legislation proposed by the reformists.

Grand Vizier at August 8, 2003 08:53 PM [permalink]:

Apparently it is better than nothing and from what you say, trying to get is well worth the effort. Does anyone know how women in Iran feel about this? How are the female intellectuals (yes they do exist in Iran) supporting it ... I am curious because I haven't heard about any such moves.

hajir at August 8, 2003 09:34 PM [permalink]:

Amongst female intellectuals, Shirin Ebadi and Zahra Shoja'ee have spoken out in supporting the convention. They are trying to say the convention is not contradictory to Islam which it is; anyway they are trying to fool the Mullahs forgetting that Mullahs are quite smart.

elnaz at August 8, 2003 09:53 PM [permalink]:

If you are asking about the body of Iranian urban women, frankly I don't know. Like all other issues there have been no polls taken or at least I am not aware of any. But from what I've heard and read in Iranian news sites, It seems that conservatives have gathered their forces in media and Islamic schools to stop this from being legislated.You can also read more in Women in Iran ( and ( Both pages are in Persian.

havij at August 9, 2003 01:35 AM [permalink]:

mullah are quite smart when it comes to stupid things :)

West-Ender at August 10, 2003 11:41 PM [permalink]:

To improve the state of women in Iran, If you know any better start please share it with us. Joining CEDAW is in fact the best start. Accomplishing this important task is definitely the DUTY of intellectual Iranian women (firstly) and men. If Iranian women want change, they need to go and actively seek it (look into Scandinavian history for good examples). The parlement has passed the bill, the Guardian Council has rejected (am I wrong?), but all of us have to push in order to prover it.

mustafa at October 10, 2003 01:58 PM [permalink]:
Islamic clerics: Veil the women!

Iraqi Islamic clerics called for women to be veiled and alcohol to be banned, and Islamic rules to be imposed on the Christian minority. Muqtada Sadr, the son of Mohammed Sadeq Sadr, told thousands that the "banning of alcohol and the wearing of the veil should be spread to all and not only to Muslims."

In Baghdad's sprawling shantytown formerly known as Saddam City and now renamed after Sadr, Sheik Jaber Khafaji said that bars should be closed, women should be veiled and men should grow their beards. "From now on, I tell you don't allow the women to go out without veils, not one bit of their hair should appear," said Khafaji, who is close to the Sadr family. Don't let the bars open; tell them to close," said Khafaji. "Those rules should be implemented on everyone, Muslims and non-Muslims, and the Muslims should implement them with more fervour," he said.

Over the past twenty years, in Iran, the Sudan, Algeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan under the Taliban, political Islamic groups and Islamic regimes have proceeded to transform their countries, and particularly women's homes into prison houses, where the confinement of women, their exclusion from many fields of work and education, and their brutal treatment became the law of the land.