CEDAW Rejected in Iran

Iran’s ultra-conservative Guardian Council rejected three bills last week that were approved by Parliament, including the International Women’s Treaty, CEDAW (Convention to Eliminate all forms of Discrimination Against Women). The other two bills rejected were the United Nations convention on eliminating torture and a bill aimed at stemming the Guardian Council’s power to keep candidates from running for office, reports the New York Times.

According to the Times, Ibrahim Azizi, the council’s spokesperson, said the bills were rejected because they went against Islamic law and were unconstitutional. The Guardian Council is controlled by hardliners and has a record of rejecting bills passed by Parliament, including many bills encouraging human rights.

Despite President Khatami’s and the parliament’s calls to change the restrictive laws in Iran, the clerics in the council continue to eliminate any efforts to reform their society. Iranian women still need their husband’s permission to work or travel abroad, a man’s testimony in court is worth twice as much as a woman’s, and women have fewer rights in divorce and child custody.

Only a handful of countries have not joined the 173 countries that have ratified CEDAW. The Bush administration has not taken a position on CEDAW, but the United States continues to avoid ratifying the treaty. “I wonder if President Bush called the clerics in Iran to tell them, ‘Welcome to the club’,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) in a press release. “It’s mind-boggling that the Bush Administration is content to remain equal with a member of the ‘axis of evil’ on the issue of discrimination against women.”

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New York Times 8/14/03; BBC 8/12/03; Associated Press 8/13/03; Rep. Maloney's office 8/15/03

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