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UN Appoints Iran to Women’s Right Committee

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Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh with her husband, Reza Khandan, her son Nima and her daughter Mehraveh at her house in Tehran on September 18, 2013, after being freed after three years in prison. (Photo: BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)
Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh with her husband, Reza Khandan, her son Nima and her daughter Mehraveh at her house in Tehran on September 18, 2013, after being freed after three years in prison. (Photo: BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)

The United Nations just appointed Iran to a women’s rights committee tasked with responding to women’s rights violations.

The controversial move follows the sentencing by Iran of Nasrin Sotoudeh, a female human rights lawyer, to 12 years in prison plus 148 lashes. Sotoudeh represented many women who removed their hijabs while protesting the Iranian regime.

She was charged with “encouraging corruption and debauchery” (the lashes were for appearing in court without a hijab herself).

Sotoudeh previously spent three years in prison after representing dissidents protesting the disputed election of former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. She was released in 2013.

Clarion Project spoke with some individuals inside of Iran about the choice the U..N made. For security reasons, we have used pseudonyms and cannot reveal their names or locations.

Ashkan told us Iran justifies its mistreatment of women with scripture. “We have a verse that allows men to punish women,” he said. “A few times, I’ve seen men kick women on the street and I’ve seen all forms of harassment.”

Farhad described a different situation. In Iran, they have green vans that take people away either through asking people to come with them or by force. “They have ‘Protective Unit’ written on them. Once my girlfriend was wearing a red coat that was too short.”  Farhad described how the van’s doors opened and out exited a man and a woman. Farhad’s girlfriend was politely told to come in the van and change her clothes.

The couple didn’t resist and decided to cooperate. The van doors then closed, and she was taken away. “They lied to me. I had to talk to so many assholes for hours until they finally let her go,” he said.

There are far more serious cases that violate women’s rights in Iran. Anahita was a political activist who was arrested and imprisoned for several months. During her imprisonment, she was raped by the prison guards.

Aside from the stories and comments of the individuals above, Iran’s morality police make sure women are wearing hijabs. There are numerous leaked videos inside of the country that show men assaulting women because they aren’t wearing their hijab.

In addition, women are forbidden from entering sports stadiums, are forced into early marriages and have little voice when it comes to divorce and other legal matters.

By appointing Iran to a women’s rights committee, the UN only helps provide a bigger platform for a country that brutally oppresses women. As evidenced by the individuals brave enough to speak out in this piece, the current regime has no interest in women’s rights or giving women a voice.

 

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Justen Charters

Justen Charters is a research analyst with the Clarion Intelligence Network.