Human Rights in Iran: Women and teachers condition
The first speaker, Rezvan Moghaddam, was a women rights activist and researcher. She had been arrested in
March 2007 among other 33 women during a peaceful
movement by the Iranian regime and in particular against the judicial proceedings of five women in Iran.
She started her speech by declaring that “I am here today to talk about gender discrimination and women’s rights”. Mrs. Moghaddam explained that it’s more than hundred years fighting for gender equality in Iran.
The first field in which women are still discriminated in Iran is the right to education. Today women make up more than 65% of the university students, but the government instead of supporting this big achievement enhances lack of jobs and unemployment against women. The target is to turn them away from decent level of education in all fields.
According to Mrs. Moghaddam other two instruments used by the government are, first, the promotion of anunequal and repressive law in favour of men, and second, the inactivity against social and economical deficiencies. As long as the State remains indifferent to these issues, women in the frame of their own families are charged by this global backwardness, and consequently women social advancement is postponed.
Starting from the revolution in 1979 not just schools were separated by gender criteria, but even universities had been renewed according to the Islamic dictates. Today some faculties are reserved for male students.
Recently, another effort to enforce gender segregation has been made by the government, who proclaimed 18 new faculties dedicated expressively for males. In the new academic year, in 36 Universities all over the country female students have been excluded from 77faculties. In particular in the University of Arak the following subjects are forbidden to women: Informatics, Languages, English literature, Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Construction Engineering, Agricultural Engineering and Electronic Engineering. The University of Isfahan has banned these subjects to women: Economics, Management, Industrial and Governmental Management, Electronic Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, English translation and Infrastructure studies.
Mrs Moghaddam affirmed that the current Minister of Education, Hamid Reza Haji Babaee declared that it is the existence of an anthropological difference between men and women that justifies a differentiation in the way that education is provided for these two categoris. In this view even the textbook should be differentiated, depending on the reader, male or female.
Social hardships, unemployment, inflation, poverty, drug addiction are still affecting the civil society. At this regard Mrs. Moghaddam pointed out that the incompetence and the incapacity of the government to overlap these issues are increasingly ghettoising the women from the society and marginalising them at home.
The panellist concludes that the educational marginalisation has as an effect to disincentive women from fighting for their rights and for their dignity.
The second panellist was Sabri Najafi, an activist of the Iranian Women Movement, and member of the SNOQ committee of Bolzano.
Mrs. Najafi continued the parable started by the previous speaker enlightening on the condition of the women in prison. She affirmed that the prison is the only place in the country in which women and men are treated in the same way.
The State authorities are increasingly arresting women that are involved in campaigns for gender equality. Bymeans of heavy economic sanctions, seizures, detentions, arrests, tortures, executions the State is aiming to disturb and intimidate women from claiming equal rules, equal treatment and the implementation of human rights in Iran. Despite the declaration of the authorities that nobody in the country is in prison for crime of thoughts, in the agenda of the State there is the goal of suppressing anyone that is in any manner trying to oppose or to criticise the system.
Mrs. Najafi introduced to this regard the case of Nasrine Sotoudeh, a human rights lawyer that had been arrested and condemned to 11 years of detention (then reduced to 6 on appeal), 20 years of disqualification from the practice of law, (then reduced to 10 on appeal) and the interdiction to leave the country for 20 years. Now Mrs. Sotoudeh is imprisoned in solitary confinement in Evin prison.
In these cases usually there are no guarantees of a fair trial and once in the judiciary vortex the law applied is the law of arbitrariness. The panellist narrated her own story and the conditions in which she and others detainees were leaving in prison: the prisoners were spied, under constant surveillance, forced to lie or to confess crimes never committed by the force of physical and psychological tortures. Further on, the living condition became incredibly hard and unbearable for the people related to detainees, who face the unbelievably restricted ability to communicate with the person in custody. In such a system the women are less and less incentivised to fight for their rights. The few achievements of the past one hundred years are the results of the sacrifice of those brave women who had not bent to the fear.
Sholeh Zamini, Südwind´s human rights activist introduced a campaign to free Iranian teachers in prison. According Mrs. Zamini in Iran teachers are suffering from heavy forms of repression. Several teachers had been arrested in the last years; currently 39 teachers are in prison right now, due to the participation to a campaign. Teachers which are recognised engines of the society are constantly under surveillance, because they are suspected of forming anti-regime movements. In this context, despite the favourable constitutional provisions, they are not allowed to take part of any kind of association, group, club or party, not even trade unions. Teachers are not allowed to make union requests, are not allowed to meet with their union representatives, and all their union claims are interpreted as conspiracies against the state. The panellist described the living conditions of most of them. Every few month they are subjected to threats, informal interviews, formal interrogations, searches. In addition even in the case in which the inquiry has a positive outcome the dossiers are considered to be still open;; it is a form of silent persecution. Mrs. Zamani continued by listing the names of the 39 teachers that had been arrested recently, and she narrated some of their stories.
The side event ended with one last speaker, Azam Bahrani, who reintroduced the women discrimination case by telling the stories of women in Iran.
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