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****Layla is on the

The others are MY STUDENTS, AND


The forces of oppression have once again attacked the Iranian women who asked for their basic human rights. Although men and women are under oppression in Iran, the extent of violation of the human rights of the Iranian women is far more than the men. This is not due to the oppressive nature of the Iranian men; it is mainly due to the anti-women regulations of Islam.

****The only way to get equal rights for the Iranian women is through a secular government. The role of women has a very central position in the Islamic ideology of the dominant regime in Iran. The best proof for this claim is the Resalah(s) of all main ayatollahs (especially those that are called the sources of emulation or Taqleed or imitation in the Shiite sect of Islam). A quick look at the Resalahs or the Book of Rulings (or Fatwas) of the grand ayatollahs reveal that almost 70 percent of their collection of Fatwas are devoted to the issues of women.

The Ayatollahs have especially mentioned many medical issues of women in great details in their books of rulings. The reason is that the religious leaders have been misusing this issue for a long time. For the same reason the religious zealots of Iran are not ready to accept any rights for the women out of the context of the limited approach of the early Islamic ideology based on the views of the nomadic Arabs of 1400 years ago. Although Iran has joined the Universal Declaration of Human rights (and its conventions regarding civil and political rights, and social and economic rights), the Mullahs of Iran are not ready to say that men and women are human beings in the same level. This is a great shame for the people of Iran, men and women equally.

In order to understand the depth of this problem I would like to mention once again the points that are contradictory in Islam and the UN Convention on Eradication of the Discrimination Against women:

What does the Convention want from member states?

According to the UN Division for the Advancement of Women (http://www.UN.org/daw): "The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)... is often described as an international bill of rights for women... It defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination. The Convention defines discrimination against women as '...any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.' By accepting the Convention, States commit themselves to undertake a series of measures to end discrimination against women in all forms, including:

* To incorporate the principle of equality of men and women in their legal system,

* Abolish all discriminatory laws and adopt appropriate ones prohibiting discrimination against women,
* To establish tribunals and other public institutions to ensure the effective protection of women against discrimination,

* To ensure elimination of all acts of discrimination against women by persons, organizations or enterprises.

The Convention provides the basis for realizing equality between women and men through ensuring women's equal access to, and equal opportunities in, political and public life - including the right to vote and to stand for election - as well as education, health and employment. States parties agree to take all appropriate measures, including legislation and temporary special measures, so that women can enjoy all their human rights and fundamental freedoms...Countries that have ratified or acceded to the Convention are legally bound to put its provisions into practice. They are also committed to submit national reports, at least every four years, on measures they have taken to comply with their treaty obligations."

The points of contradiction between the Islamic laws and the UN Convention are as follows:

1- According to the rules of Islam, women inherit half of men.

2- The blood money of women is half of men. It means that if a person kills a woman, he has to pay half of the figure designated by the Islamic government for one man. The issue gets more interesting when we consider that the blood money for some parts of men (like the private parts) is almost equal the one compete person. We may conclude the killing a woman is cheaper than damaging certain parts of a man.

3- The right of divorce is absolutely with men.

4- Women are not allowed to travel (this is usually interpreted as setting their foot out of the main door in the house) without direct permission of their husbands or male supervisors (in case of girls, divorcees, and so on, a male supervisor, is designated to supervise the subject. In many case the supervisor may lack the moral competency and the sole criteria for this designation is being male).

5- Women can stand as witness as half of a man. In other words two female witnesses are considered as one male witness. This is strictly observed in the Islamic courts and the formal attestations.

6- Women are not allowed to be judge under any circumstances.

7- The right of child custody is always with men. (This, like many other points, is considered as blessing to women because they do not have to bear the financial burden of keeping the children).

8- The women belonging to the religious minorities (especially those of the religions that are not considered People of the Book) suffer all the points in a special way. They are subject to double inequality as women and as a member of a minority.

9- Men can have four wives and more concubines (a mixture of female slaves and third class wives) according to Islam. This is discrimination unless women can also have four husbands (and more concubines: a mixture of male salves and third class husbands).

10- According to the Islamic laws of all Islamic countries, the women who marry foreigners lose their nationality. This is not the same for men.

11- In the case of changing the religion from Islam to anything else (Ertedad), men are immediately condemned to death, but women have to be poisoned and beaten several times every day (at the five times of the daily prayer) until they give up the new religion and return to the arms of Islam. Although this is rare advantage towards women, it is an indication of the lower human status of woman that they should not be �wasted� for changing religion. By the way, this is against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

12- There is a clear discrimination in Islamic rules about the clothing of men and women. According to the dominant interpretations of Islamic code of dress, the woman should cover all of their body except than the circle of face, and hands from wrist to fingers. The rest of women�s bodies are considered as equivalent to private parts (Owrat) that must be concealed in the public. There are no such restrictions for men. Men are only called upon not to look passionately to women.



Debra Kamza is a friend of mine and we both were writing our books about the same time although our experiences happened at different times. She helped me promote my book and for that I am indebted to her. She is a wonderful woman and very courageous. SHE ALSO DID MY BOOK COVER FOR ME!! (HERE IS A SYNOPSIS OF HER BOOK)

Beliefs can be dangerous. Religious, political, or romantic, they all share one thing in common: they require unconditional acceptance despite all information to the contrary. In teenaged bravado, I came to scrutinize all the beliefs that had been imposed on me and found them wanting. A tall, dark stranger, a revolutionary from an exotic land, drew me to him by the very differences in beliefs and mindset he represented. I sensed the danger in him, but what could be learned, or what new comfort zone attained, seemed much more important to me. As a result, I found myself trapped in the turbulent Iran of 1982. It was a place of contrasts: stark hostility, gracious hospitality, beautiful arts, harsh theocrats, ancient architecture, dress, and ways mixed easily with those of the modern day…. Lost in a flood of foreign passions, I was eager to adapt and learn but unwilling to surrender the civil rights I took for granted as an American. When I bore my first child and was given no rights in raising him, I rebelled utterly.

and do it!!!