Women's Freedoms and Equality in Tomorrow's Iran
An outline of the Iranian Resistance’s viewpoints on women's rights in tomorrow’s Iran is declared as follows:
1. Fundamental freedoms and rights
• Women shall have the equal right to enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms;
• Irrespective of their ethnicity, religion, social class or demographics, women everywhere, in whatever village or city, must have the same rights as men in all economic, social and political spheres. Discrimination against women must be abolished in all its forms(2).
• Women are free to choose their place of residence, occupation, and education. They must have the opportunity to travel freely, have the right to freely choose their clothing and spouse, and have the right to leave the country, to obtain foreign citizenship, to devolve citizenship to their children, to divorce, and to obtain custody and guardianship over children(3).
• Belief in a specific faith or religion must not count as a factor to degrade any women or to prevent them from access to employment opportunities or educational and judicial resources.
2. Equality before the law
• Women must enjoy protection of the law equal to men(4).
• Women must enjoy access to guaranteed judicial recourse in the face of violence, rape, discrimination and deprivation of liberty.
• Women must have equal rights as men before the courts.
• Courts must view testimonies and affidavits submitted by women as equal in weight to those submitted by men.
• The legal age for girls shall be 18. Prior to this age, girls shall not be subject to criminal punishment;
3. Freedom of choosing one’s own clothing
• Women are free to choose their own clothing. Government interference in this regard is prohibited.
• The law of forced veiling shall be repealed(5).
• Laws that prescribe administrative punishment for lack of veiling of female workers or employees shall be repealed(6).
• Written or unwritten laws on controlling the clothing or behavior of women under the rubric of “mal-veiling,” which have violated Iranian women’s right to freedom and security, shall have no place in tomorrow’s Iran.
4. Equal participation in political leadership
• Women shall enjoy the right to participate “in the formulation of government policy and the implementation thereof and to hold public office and perform all public functions at all levels of government.”(7)
• Women must specifically enjoy the right to equal participation in the country's political leadership(8).
• In order to dispense with any inequality, the government must appoint women for at least half of its posts, and political parties are obliged to choose at least half their candidates from among women for parliamentary elections.
• Any laws that cause prohibitions or limitations on women occupying government posts or senior judicial and legal positions must be repealed.
5. Equality in the economic sphere
• Women shall enjoy equal rights as men in terms of inheritance, entering contracts and management of property(9).
• Women shall have equal opportunities as men in the labor market(10).
• Women must receive equal pay for equal work as men, in addition to having job security and complete benefits.
• In accessing housing, appropriate nutrition, medical services, and employment, as well as athletic and artistic endeavors, women shall enjoy equal opportunities as men.
6. Equality in the family
• Women must have free and equal right to choose, marry or divorce a spouse.
• Polygamy is prohibited(11).
• Marriage before reaching legal age is prohibited. In family life, any coercion or compulsion of women is prohibited.
• Familial responsibilities such as housekeeping, raising children, employment, and educating children are the obligation of both men and women
• Women shall have the rights to obtain custody over their children(12).
• Employment of young girls below the legal age shall be prohibited. They will enjoy special privileges in field of education.
• Government inquisition and meddling in women private lives is prohibited.
7. Prohibition of violence
• The death penalty against women shall be annulled and torture, offensive and degrading treatment of women shall be prohibited.
• Rape shall be considered a crime wherever it occurs.
• Various forms of violence(13) against women, acts of intimidation or forcible deprivation of their freedoms shall be considered crimes.
8. Prohibition of sexual exploitation
• Sex trade is prohibited.
• Trafficking of women and forcing them into prostitution is a crime and those responsible shall be criminally prosecuted.
• Anyone committing sexual crimes against children shall be prosecuted(14).
• Any form of sexual exploitation of women under any pretext shall be prohibited and all customs, laws and regulations which allow the parents, guardian or a third party related to a girl or woman to give away the latter to another party for sexual pleasure or exploitation under the pretext of marriage or anything else shall be annulled(15).
9. Repealing Mullahs’ Sharia laws
• The mullahs’ Sharia laws shall not have a place in the laws of the future Iran.
• Emphasis shall be “to repeal all national penal provisions which constitute discrimination against women.(16)”
• Appalling and brutal laws such as stoning shall be repealed(17).
• All laws authorizing crimes against women under familial pretexts shall be repealed(18).
10. Social benefits
• Women must have access to social benefits, especially as it relates to retirement, unemployment, old age and other forms of disability, in addition to the right to maternity leave during pregnancy and after delivery, and the right to sufficient nutrition and free services during this period.
• The government is obligated to plan to provide for the nursery and day care requirements of working women.
• All employed women must have access to nursery and day care centers for raising their children.
• Women belonging to minorities, female refugees or immigrants, women living in villages or remote areas, underprivileged women, female prisoners, young girls, and disabled or weak or old women, shall enjoy special financial, educational and medical support from the government.
• Depriving women employed under temporary contracts of social benefits shall be prohibited.
• Dismissing women from work or reducing their wages due to pregnancy or delivery, or obligating them to perform harmful jobs during this period shall be prohibited.
• The government shall assume responsibility for supporting single women who provide for their families(19).
Equal and Active participation of Women in Leadership
Our experience made it palpably clear that defeating the curse of inequality is impossible without first taking a leap; leadership responsibilities must be given to the most competent women without the slightest degree of anxiety. Women's hegemony in the Iranian Resistance, as a paradigm-shifting transformation, paved the way for women to take on responsibilities in all fields.
As a result of this campaign, women succeeded in adopting noble values and rose above a decadent and reactionary culture.
As a first accomplishment, they came to believe in themselves and their capabilities. And when they discovered how necessary their responsible roles are in the advancement of the struggle against the religious tyranny, they decided to leave the world of irresponsibility and passivity, where a women’s self-identity is reliant on others. Instead they stepped into a world of responsible women who in fact lead a struggle with all its potential consequences.
They parted with vices that would hold them back, like jealousy, comparison and attributing worth to physical attributes, appearances, and age, all of which greatly deplete women's energies. They also managed to replace attitudes of frailty and fragility with a sense of forte and strength.
They shed their fears of facing defeat or exhibiting weakness in the face of difficulties. Instead of succumbing to pressure, they learned to cultivate the power within themselves to overcome defeat.
Instead of losing hope, they learned to remain helpful and assiduous in opening the path to victory.
In our movement, relations among women have changed in a way that women stand alongside each other and support and hear one another as if they were biological sisters. They fulfill the most cumbersome responsibilities collectively and on the basis of such relations. They do not undermine each other. Progress made by any one of them is a source of encouragement and inspiration for other women. And, collective effort to elevate the responsibilities of other women is considered a virtue.
Each woman in the Resistance has come to the realization that by cooperating with and supporting her colleagues, she would actually be empowering herself. In this path, they have attained an incredible ability to make sacrifices for their sisters. For this reason, they succeeded in running the affairs of Camp Ashraf in the most difficult and complicated battles in last decade…
In order to rebuild the free Iran of tomorrow, we must still be armed with this outlook so that we can create democratic institutions in our society. In other words, the Iranian Resistance also has the historical responsibility to be a builder and a founder.
If democracy is not built on gender equality, participation of all people, free choice of all sectors of society, and unconditional freedom of speech, then it would quickly deviate and take on reactionary tendencies.
The idea of equality, in our movement, is inspirational and holds a promise for the Iranian society and especially its women and youth.
When you target sexism, you are actually attempting to shatter the cornerstone of the velayat-e faqih system (absolute clerical rule).
When you target the mullahs' misogyny, you are in fact aiming at the heart of their ideology. As a result, neither the mullahs’ jurisprudence nor Sharia, nor their reactionary laws, and culture would find a solid footing.
This explains why the mullahs target the PMOI incessantly and extensively through utter demagoguery. In their view, the PMOI's first offense is its unwavering commitment to bring about regime change in Iran.
In their view, the PMOI's first offense is its unwavering commitment to bring about regime change in Iran.
But, in addition to this, in accordance with the mullahs’ Sharia, the PMOI has committed the cardinal sin. Because the Iranian Resistance believes that Iranian women are competent enough and must assume the leadership of the democratic Iran of tomorrow….
It is because this is a movement that completely and absolutely rejects the ruling ideology and behavior and has risen up to overthrow oppression, inequality and injustice in its foundation.
No to Compulsory Veiling
Another area of violence and compulsion in Iran is the mandatory dress code or Hijab. Since the early days of Khomeini's rule, Iranian women protested against compulsory veiling. At the time, the PMOI women actively participated in demonstrations against compulsory veiling….
A series of laws were also devised to deprive Iranian women from their individual and social rights. A number of agencies are in charge of suppression and especially tasked to counter improper veiling...In fact, they have turned Iran into a great prison for women.
For this reason, we reiterate that Iranian women must be free!
They must be free to choose what they believe in, what they want to wear and how they want to live.
And we repeat: NO to compulsory veil; NO to compulsory religion; and NO to compulsory government.
Misogyny is at the core of suppression against society as a whole, since preserving the ruling theocracy is predicated on it.
Such misogyny does not arise from blind, religious zealotry or trying to safeguard societal chastity, or even preserving the foundation of the family. Misogyny under the cloak of religion has become systematic and persistent because it is a lever to maintain the monopolistic domination of the velayat-e faqih. Misogyny is the raison d'être for dozens of the regime’s suppressive agencies.
This justifies the permanent surveillance operations in the streets, the actions of street patrols and the conduct of such agencies as “The Office to Combat Vice,” or “The Morality Police Force” and 20 other police entities.
Similarly, clamping down on women on the pretext of mal-veiling is one of the most effective means to repress society and silence any voice of dissent...
The mullahs have no scruples in enchaining women on so-called religious grounds.
In other words, they have a free rein in scrutinizing and controlling everything, everywhere, including in sports, administrative and production settings, in hiring or firing, in constantly controlling women’s and youths’ commute in the streets, in arbitrary raids on people’s homes, in censoring books, movies, theater and music, in filtering websites and social media, in fabricating judicial cases and in attacking parties.
This explains why enforcing the hejab has gained such prominence in the regime’s policies and laws. This explains why the mullahs openly equate a “mal-veiled” woman with being counterrevolutionary.
This explains why whenever the regime suffers a political setback on the international scene, or whenever it faces social protests and uprisings, it steps up executions and intensifies the campaign against mal-veiling….
The ruling mullahs are fully aware that if they show leniency vis-à-vis compulsory veiling or modify any of their laws and policies that oppress women, the latter’s power will quickly advance and mobilize society.