By Connor J. Wangler
As in many countries where Islamic Sharia Law reigns supreme, the rights of women are often starkly different compared to those typified within Western culture. Iran is perhaps one of the most oppressive governments when it comes to women’s and girls’ rights as it is one of the most adherent law systems when it comes to Islamic law.
One area that seems to be a beacon of hope for women in the Islamic Republic, however, is in women’s education. According to Nayereh Tohidi, more than half of the university students in Iran are female, making up at least 70% of those studying engineering and science. Some fundamental conservatives in Iran argue that this will lead to a disparity in education and economic imbalances between men and women. This view hasn’t stopped several universities from encouraging the education of women by creating Women’s Studies programs that go up to the Masters Degree level.
Here is an interesting piece by FreeMiddleEast regarding what they call Iran’s “Gender Apartheid.”
Despite this prospect of advancement in education, women still suffer greatly in their inequality with men when it comes it several areas. One of these areas is female participation in sports. The “Bad Hijab” law, outlawing the exposure of any part of the body other than hands and face, has made it very difficult for Iranian women to participate in the full range of sports. This often leads Iran’s international representation in sporting events, such as the Olympics, to be dominated by men.
Even the fight for women’s rights is vilified by conservatives within the country as anti-Islamic and, therefore, morally reprehensible. The “One Million Signatures” campaign is an effort to end discrimination of women in Iranian laws by collecting one million petition signatures. One such law the campaign focuses on is one that gives greater value to male legal testimony over the testimonies of females. The female leaders of this campaign, unfortunately, have been attacked and, often, arrested. Several leaders of the campaign were arrested for allegedly contributing to banned websites.