Feminist School: a group of women activist inside Iran celebrate the International Day against Violence against Women by sending a statement on this occasion. In this message, they expressed their concerns about the widespread violence against women (VAW) in Iran and criticized the confrontational and hostile policies, domestic and international, adopted in this regard by the officials and the government of Iran. Among the signatories of this statement one finds the name of activists from a broad spectrum of society, women like Minou Mortazi, Shahla Lahigi, Fakhrossadat Mohtashamipoor, Raskhshan Bani-Etemad, Farzaneh Taheri, Firouzeh Saber, Farideh Mashini, Elaheh Mojaradi, Noushin Ahmadi Khorasssani, Nargess Mohammadi, Jila Bani Yaghoub, Fatemeh Govaraii, Taherhe Taleghani, Banafsheh Hejazi, Shahrbanoo Amani, Nahid Tavasoli, and Maasoumeh Dehgha.
“Unforgettable Butterflies”, Women resistance movement of Iran
The International Day against Violence against Women is observed on the anniversary day of the “Unforgettable Butterflies” of the Dominican Republic, when three sisters, the Mirables, were killed in the struggle against the dictatorship in their country. It was this heartbreaking incident that caused the United Nations to designate one day for publicising opposition to violence against the women the world over. We Iranian women also have many “unforgettable butterflies” in our civil nonviolent resistance Movement, such as Parvaneh Eskandary, Haleh Sahabi, and Neda Agha Soltan, our three generations of Unforgettable Butterflies, who were victims of brutal violence that is blazing more heatedly today.
For almost two decades women activists have been struggling to tame the flame of violence. But unfortunately not only could we not have the support of our governing bodies, statesmen and politicians, but with implementation of unwise and male chauvinistic policies, domestic violence is extended to the public domain and the judiciary and now it has become a legal institution against the women, turning into legal violence against women. For example, while the excessive cases of sexual violence, rape, and female homicide should have given a mandate to our statesmen to pass laws to keep women from being the victim of such crime, unfortunately, the verbal abuse in some of the statements directed against women and immoral comments about them justified and even encouraged it. Instead of finding a workable solution to amend the rights of the citizens, the statesmen preferred to turn the tables on the women and blame them as the main cause of all the the country’s problems and crises. To prove their point, instead of finding a remedy for existing gender inequality in civil and family laws, they even create more painful conditions for women, even regarding basic rights such as divorce, that makes them to turn to violence towards their family, thus making themselves into a tool of perpetuating violence.
In order to ameliorate and ultimately come up with a solution for any problem, the economic planners and strategists, by adopting a false policy and misallocation of resources for a special class, not only do not solve the problem, but marginalize the issue. Prostitution, with all the problem attached to it, such as the daily mounting numbers of younger and younger minors turning to this profession, is the direct result of poverty and addiction. It would seem that creating financial support, jobs and professional opportunities, equal opportunity for all or even affirmative action should have been a top priority to provide an honorable source of income for them. However, in reality none of these programs is on the government’s agenda.
we see that some authorities, instead of finding a solution for preventing violence and removing the various social and economical difficulties against the women, very superficially have turned the women’s dress code into an excuse for more violence against them. Unfortunately, not only do these kinds of misdirected policies not decrease violence against women, but they even spread the violence to the most inner corners of personal and social life and let its dark shadows fall ultimately over the lives of innocent children who are the most vulnerable segment of society.
The flames of violence which burns the heart of our society is rooted on the one hand in inequality and hostile gender confrontations existing in our educational and our public domain, and on the another hand in the hostile confrontation of our culture and our country with the international community. It is as if the confrontation and hostility — that re-produces the violence in itself——is preferred by our male-dominated politics over the policy of employing dialogue and cooperation which in its depth breeds tolerance and peace. They separate men from women in order to maintain purity and prevent sin while in reality morality and humanity flourish only within a society based on cooperation, equality, and full responsibility. They isolate Iranians from the rest of world just to keep them immune from the maladies of international culture, while it is only in conjunction with others that a native culture becomes resistant and flourishing.
Today, by polarizing political discourse, domestic as well as international, and by adding fuel to the confrontational atmosphere, not only is the women’s issue marginalized, but violence is extended to children as well. It is under this condition that we, the women activists in Iran, more than any other time, are concerned about the increasing violence against the women and children. In our opinion, under present conditions, there are three essential forces that are able to facilitate and decrease the confrontations existing in this polarized situation: various groups of people in Iran, the ruling government, and international community. In all these three forces there exists the potential of violence as well as the capacity of establishing a dialogue. That is why we, the women, on the occasion of the International Day against Violence against Women ask all statesmen to hear our plea and our warning, instead of turning to hostile and violent polarization, to emphasis dialogue and cooperation among these three forces. Undoubtedly, we should distance ourselves from polarized discourse that is based on vindication or right and wrong and focus on cooperation and dialogue both on the domestic and the international levels.
We hope that our present crisis would end to a peaceful conclusion through a dialogue and cooperation among these three forces. We believe that the eventual solution to all our problems will be resulted from the ending the hostile confrontation, respect to the rights of citizens especially women and children, dialogue between the ruling government and the authorities with international community, and respect to international laws and custom and norms which are the result of human experiences.
We also need to have a transparent dialogue and negotiation with the representatives and leadership of the existing social and political movements. We also need to create and maintain a safe and secure society by releasing the leadership of the Green Movement from house arrest, freeing political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, especially the women and mothers, and providing a secure environment for all of them to resume their activity freely, and, finally, by opening up the space for civil societies to form. Undoubtedly, providing a suitable humane way of life, away from violence, for women and children, our country’s future generations not only depends on constructive plans but needs peaceful and tolerant methods, on the domestic as well as international level, to fulfill them.