Nasrin Sotoudeh is a defense attorney. She herself is an example of Iranian woman that has been discriminated. She has been put in jail after being convicted on security-related charges. (she worked as a lawyer for women detained for refusing to cover their hair in public). After being arrested, she continues to be denied family visits in Iran’s Evin Prison, where they say that she has been held on trumped-up national security charges, mainly because they find a small scissor in her cell. However, those who don’t know about living conditions inside Evin Prison about what the inmates use to cut meat or peel fruit or chop potatoes, onions, and carrots and cut watermelons, do they use their nails or do they use all kinds of knives and cooking utensils?
If people in situation like her can already get banned from family visits, then every prisoner in this facility should be permanently denied visitation! The main women rights problem has started since the Islamic Revolution on Jan 07, 1978. Clerical rulers have been preoccupied with setting limits on the rights and role of women. Iranian women are treated as second-class citizens by then. Women in Iran fought for gender equality from 19th century all the way until now by having their own organizations, telling people over the world about their situation; thus, with global pressure and power of the organizations, gender discrimination in Iran is decreasing. Even right now that the gender discrimination is lightened, women in Iran still face many challenges and difficulties such as: not allowed to run for the presidency, strict clothing, and family violence, which can lead to more civil wars in Iran.
Women in Iran faced discrimination everywhere in real life, whether as a whole group pressured by the government or individually by the restricted laws, and men who Supported Women’s Protests also got punished. Hijab became part of Iran’s law after Islamic Revolution in 1979, women who broke this law would receive hard punishments. During 2018 Dec 29th, The police chief of Tehran (the Iranian capital), announced that Tehran police would no longer detain and punish women seen without a proper hijab in public. However, defense attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh was still repeatedly banned from seeing her children due for allegedly wearing an “improper hijab” in Evin Prison from Tehran. This event is published by her husband on Facebook January 13, 2019, which means that even after the local police’s announcement, nothing big really changes.
The hijab incident can go even more insane and ridiculous—on January 22, 2019, two men in Iran called Reza Khandan and Farhad Meysami, have both been put to six years imprisonment in Iran and banned from leaving the country or having any online activities for two years due to peacefully protesting the country’s compulsory hijab law. In addition, Iran is the only country in the world that bans women from football stadiums for approximately 39 years since 1980; however, Iranian female football fans never gave up insisting for their right to enter to stadiums. In 2006, Iranian women formed a group called “Roosari Sefidha” or ‘Women in White Scarves.” They wore white scarves and wrote their slogans on them. This was a clever tactic since the police were not able to remove those slogans.
Iranian women had formed into different organizations that appeal to the state for equal treatments between men and women. The Women’s Organization of Iran (WOI) was founded in 1966 by a 5000-member assembly of Iranian women with all different backgrounds and came from different places. Masih Alinejad, an Iranian women’s rights activist, found My Stealthy Freedom campaign in 2014, which work to promote freedom of expression and counter the compulsory hijab laws in Iran with more than three million followers on social media. It is clear to see that Iranian women had tried really hard to earn back their rights and that they gathered from different places and formed these organizations. While they were formed, more and more followers came to support them, and throughout the time they had done many improvements little by little.
The realizations of people from all over the world and the help of those organizations decreased the discrimination toward Iranian women. Iranian women have been allowed to cheer on their World Cup 2018 national team for the first time with the help of FIFA president in June 20th, 2018. UN human rights experts have called on Iran to guarantee the rights of human rights defenders and lawyers who have been jailed for publicly supporting protests against the mandatory hijab in 2019, January. In 1999, 57 percent of students entering universities were women; moreover, the average life expectancy for women went up from 44.15 to 75.75 years, and the maternal mortality rate dropped from 83 (1990) to 23(2013) per 100,000 births. Those events that happened had caught many attentions of people and organizations which deal with human rights problems and other related issues. Beside solving those problems, they also have websites that reports them which let more and more people know about different gender discrimination in Iran right now.
Gender discrimination in Iran has not come to a complete end yet, Iranian women still struggles on many serious problems, and most of them have been discriminated individually than as a group. “Every time I go to the bazar I’m concerned about my outfit. I make sure that I wear something loose and conservative and not to wear too much make up”. Said Bahareh, a student in Tehran. 2018.09.26. Imprisoned civil rights activist Atena Daemi is being denied medical treatment despite possibly suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS) 2019.03.01. Women with disabilities and other vulnerable groups face heightened risk of abuse. 2018.11.23. All the things show that even though discrimination toward an entire group of women almost no longer exists, there are still many individuals being discriminated or treated badly in different ways.
Nowadays in 155 countries, women still face legal discrimination. Data analysis shows that gender inequality in education has a direct impact on economic growth through lowering the average quality of human capital. In addition, economic growth is affected through the impact of gender inequality on investment and population growth. Moreover, the analysis shows that gender inequality in education prevents progress in reducing fertility and child mortality rates, thus compromising progress in well-being in developing countries. Women’s rights help the society evolve. Through women’s rights such as right to equality, women are able to advance, and as a result the larger society too is able to advance and evolve. This benefits the entire society including men.
Even though the situation of Iranian gender discrimination is fluctuating, people can see that it is slowly decreasing, as compared to the past. In order for other countries that currently have the same problem to also lighten the gender discrimination issue, they should take some of the ways that Iran has been using, mainly to set more laws and to have more organizations. Furthermore, all countries, including Iran, should conceptualize issues into a separate national law. This approach can surely better clarify women’s empowerment issues within the legal framework of the state. Despite setting more laws, women’s empowerment in some fields such as elected politicians needs more attention. “Gender discrimination is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building governance.”