Iranian Women Protest Sex Discrimination

Approximately 250 women gathered in front of Tehran University yesterday and 200 others gathered nearby to protest sex discrimination imposed on them through Islamic or sharia law. Women demanded that in the upcoming June 17 election, candidates must define how they will change women’s status and the current laws which value women as subordinate to men, according to the New York Times. The Iranian government deployed hundreds of riot police to the scene of the protests. Roohi Afzal, a translator present at the demonstration, said, “We will continue such protests because it shows that women are aware of their rights. It seems that our presence today really hurts the government, that it has deployed so many forces. Maybe it will react and respond to our demands,” according to the New York Times.

The protest can be seen as part of the recent wave of women’s rights activism in Iran due to the political climate of tolerance during election times. Women have voted in large numbers in recent elections, and the candidates are aware that the women’s vote is an important one to win, the Times reports.

On Wednesday, Iranian women protested the rule banning their attendance at male sporting events. Approximately 100 women rushed past Azadi Stadium guards in order to cheer on their national team in the World Cup qualifier match. The majority of these women were invited by Iran’s minister of sports and current presidential candidate Mohsen Mehralizadeh. Recently, Mehralizadeh has assisted women in gaining access to soccer games, according to the Washington Post.

Following the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, stern rules were imposed upon Iranian women restricting their public visibility. Iranian law states that women require their husband’s consent in order to travel to a different country or to work beyond the home. Women’s testimony is worth half that of a man’s in court and a woman receives half the inheritance that a brother receives. Iranian women’s rights activists suggest that establishing a new constitution is the only way in which women in Iran will gain full rights.

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Aljazeera 6/6/05, BBC News 9/22/02, The New York Times 6/13/05, Washington Post 6/8/05

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