"Democracy can not be
achieved without liberty and equal and human rights for women"*
We the organizers of this meeting deeply
believe in the above mentioned notion. We have no doubt that if the demands of
diverse groups of women belonging to different social classes, religions and
ethnic minorities are met, all sectors of society would benefit from it. It is
true that women's demand cannot be confined to legal rights, however at present
moment the demand of equal and human rights is the axis that brings us all
together and gives shape to the solidarity movement of the Iranian women.
Trying to bring about legal changes, civil rights and women's rights of
citizenship helps enlarge the tiny framework of the constitution and makes
possible other changes, meaning a more appropriate economic condition for all
and a real right of choice for each one of us. This is the broad horizon we are
to persuade stage by stage.
In a situation where in addition to unwritten
barriers, civil rights and women's right of citizenship is tramped in the
shadow of the constitution; the rights of many social, religious, ethnic and
intellectual groups of women is not acknowledged; any activity and movement
aimed to change this disorderly condition faces many obstacles; structural
changes of law should be considered as the precondition of any and all
movements. [Even though] under the present circumstances, women's solidarity
movement has been assembled to bring about large-scale legal changes, it in no
way negates [the principle] that we can strive in other groups to achieve other
demands of ours.
In our daily lives and social activities we
struggle against discriminatory and patriarchal traditions and perceptions. We
demand equal and human rights in order to have at our disposal legal leverages,
legitimacy and power:
-To stand tall against forced marriages of
little girls in different corners of this country.
-To struggle for mother's rights to take
custody and parenting of her child.
-To prevent official and unofficial polygamy
and oppressive divorces with no common consent.
-To broaden the right of maidens to chose
their life style.
-To fight against the outlook who counts
women as being half of men.
-To build safe houses without encountering
legal obstacles, lessen violence against women and stop honor killings.
-To prevent women's immolation which is a product of deadlocks in their public and private lives.
-To demand social security and decent life
and free services for all women; especially women of lower echelons.
-To institutionalize democracy and liberty.
-All in all, To
spread, under the protection of progressive laws and human rights, women's
consciousness and self belief through out the society (At least not to confront
legal obstacles when spreading this consciousness). That is why we imply in our
slogans that "legal equality is only the surface of our demands".
Yet all these demands have faced the
impediment of the constitution whose perception of women is discriminatory .The
constitution views women in no role other than family members and solely as
mothers; mothers with no rights. In the Rights of the People, the present
constitution speaks of "all individuals". But according to principle
98,the interpretation of this term (all individuals)
throughout the constitution is the responsibility of the Council of Guardians.
In the constitution's preamble too, the term woman is expounded as "being
a mother" "fostering devout human beings". Consequently when
principle21 attempts to stipulate obligations of the state towards women, it
only depicts them as mothers or women without household heads, the
"merited amongst these are bestowed the guardianship of their
children" in the " absence of the Shari'a-ordained guardian (men of the family)".
Principle 21 of the constitution indicates that" the state must ensure the
rights of women in all respects in conformity with the Islamic criteria. Once
again the obligations of the state in protecting women's
rights indeed is referred to the interpretation of Islamic criteria. A
specific interpretation of the Islamic criteria concerning women,
appears in the Constitutions' preamble.
For years women tried to modify these
interpretations and exert influence on the civil code; yet they always faced
legal deadlocks, i.e. appointed (non elected)
institutions who, according to the Constitution interpret laws. And it seems
that as long as the execution of laws is dependant upon the interpretation of
legally appointed authorities who exclude women from their ranks, women can
never attain equal and human rights in any way. For instance women cannot
interpret the term " rejal"
in principle 115 of the constitution as they wish, [because the appointed
authorities have interpreted the term as being a male person]. Same with
principle 41of the constitution which stipulates that citizenship of the
country of Iran is an indisputable right of "each Iranian
individual"; yet, as the interpretation of such terms lies in an appointed
institution who must see things confirm with Islamic criteria, the interpretation
of "each Iranian individual" in laws concerning citizenship of the
country excludes women or a section of women as their status is contingent on
men. In fact all existing discriminatory laws of marriage, child custody,
heritage, residence, employment, etc. are written into the constitution with
the provision of " conformity with Islamic
law". The exclusive right of interpreting this "
criteria" too is granted to an appointed body. As such the existing
hierarchy latent in the constitution by its very self, curbs the constitution
much more than it actually is.
English Translation by ABF.