Gender Inequality and Violence Against Women in Iran

Almost a week ago another woman, Reyhaneh Jabbari, was hanged on charge of killing the alleged rapist and a week before that the new wave of acid attacks on women began in Iran. For the past four decades different types of violence such as rape, acid attacks, sexual assault, stoning, harassing against women in public and private places deteriorated. However, their voices have not been heard by the authorities, even often women have been labeled as culprit. The violent acts are not limited to the ones mentioned but a wider category.

The fact of being female in Iran is enough to experience different kinds of injustice and oppression. Iranian judicial system does not consider woman as equal as man. For instance here are a few examples of injustice implemented by the judicial system; In case of patrimony the female family members get the half of male ones, applying for passport only with the permission of husband or father or other male guardian, unable to divorce until the husband agrees on, unable to have job if the husband oppose, unable to get marry without father’s approval and many more articles and remarks in the Iranian constitution.

Obviously what happened in Isfahan was not just an incident committed by some random gangs. Some women were warned by the attackers through anonymous text messages -SMS- that acid would be thrown at their faces if they did not cover up properly. Iran’s Rouhani asked for immediate action to find the criminals and a committee has been formed to probe the incidents. The acid attacks took place in different spots of Isfahan without being identified while Iranian government spend a big portion of the budget every year for surveillance. And apart from the surveillance there is no guarantee to bring the main organizers of the attacks to the justice but maybe only some unknown gangs.

Reyhaneh Jabbari was hanged on charge of killing the alleged rapist while there were vague points in the story. She became the headline of the news agencies around the world and her heartbreaking letter published many times. Nonetheless, this did not make any progress in authorities view toward women.

The “enjoining good and forbidding wrong” apprehending and harassing women daily. Police did thwart the protest against acid attacks on women while the president and other officials express their anger and call the attacks, “inhuman act”. Hypocrisy!

Undoubtedly Iran’s Islamic regime has been violating human rights for the past few decades. There is nothing to surprise the international community about the violations and whatever vicious act could be expected by that regime.

Ergo, there is a very remarkable difference between the old and new version of human rights violations in Iran. So, what new and old version mean here? If we look at the history of the Iranian government since 1979, there are two kinds of suppression, repression and human right violations. For the first three decades the government was trying to hide all the cases as much as possible. Two decades ago the method of spreading the news was quite different. Nowadays whenever there would be a prisoner in danger of imminent execution, the campaigns could be formed in social media immediately and the news would be spread all over the world.

The Iranian regime is aware of social media’s role. The news can be spread in just a few seconds after the violations meted out and this is very clear to the Iranian regime.

Obviously it seems that the Iranian regime decided to use this opportunity. The tactic is to abuse locals’ rights continuously but let it be deteriorated once in a while by targeting a group of civilians which could be women, prisoners of conscious, cultural activists, political activists and etc. Then the international community focus on human rights violations happening inside Iran more than the governments vicious activities and involvement abroad. For Iran the human beings have no value but their political goals. The conclusion is that as the human being value is so low for Iranian regime, any kind of violations could be done to let the international community focus on inside Iran not the activities abroad.

Eventually this question comes up that what distinguishes women from the other groups among the victims. Women are experiencing all the violent acts and dehumanization only because of their gender not as a result of attending an activity by their will. As well women in Iran experiencing inferior life everyday and everywhere only because of their gender. Of course this does not mean that the other groups have not been experiencing inhumane treatment, but for sure not because of their gender.

In a country where patriarchy has its roots in the society, government, religion and traditions, undoubtedly only being a female is enough to be the prey in different levels especially for the patriarch regime.

About the Author
Ramyar Hassani is a human rights observer and journalist covering the Kurdish struggle from the field and office. He was born in Sanandaj (Sine in Kurdish), in Eastern Kurdistan, the part of Kurdistan that has been attached to Iran.