After 82 years battle against the Shiite clerics the women of Iran finally claimed equal to men in 1968. That was when the last piece of the legislation was passed by the efforts of women lawyers such as Senator Mehrangiz Manouchehrian, a member of the International Women lawyers' association, with a doctorate degree in law and the first woman senator of Iran.
The young women were not even aware of the battles that three generations of their mothers and grand mothers in the past had waged for them. They took it as the norm, enjoyed their choices and pursued their careers. They were educated abroad with special scholarships for women and or they chose to attend universities at home. They were intellectuals, medical doctors, engineers, scientists, business women, senators, professors, artists and so on. They were civil servants who had succeeded to become members of the cabinets, secretaries and under secretaries with no glass ceilings.
In 1978 the sky was the limit for the women of Iran.
But the old enemy rose to power again and took everything away in 82 days.
How shocking it was for a free and intellectual woman to hear that her life was to be valued by a few camels and goats? How absolutely humiliating for that woman to be told that the value of her life is one half, of the value of the hoodlum who beats her into submission.
The women of Iran marched, protested and organized sit-ins but they faced authorized-to-kill vigilantes and thugs with guns, bats and chains. They had fought against the hijab and had gleaned the right to refuse Islamic veiling. They fought for the right to choose their clothing by the vote of the Parliament in 1928. However when they lost the vote in the parliament, Shiite clerics resorted to intimidation by accusing them of prostitution and took to physically threatened the unveiled women on the streets. Only the very brave among them stood resolute and followed the choice that the law had yielded them. These women kept pressing the government for protection, until in January of 1935 they won the support of Reza Shah who brought his wife and daughters with him without hijab. It was during this time that the law of choice in clothing for women was strictly enforced and the police were prompted to protect all women from Mullah-prompted vigilante attacks.
In November of 1978, When campaigning for his revolution in Paris, Ayatollah Khomeini told the London Guardian that in his Islamic Republic women will enjoy all the freedoms and that by no means would wearing the hijab be mandatory. But one of his first acts was to replace all the secular pro-woman laws with the Sharia laws. To force the women back to Hijab and obedience, he returned the regime-sanctioned vigilantes and the thugs back to the streets. How would women fight this approach to oppression?
After the 1906 victory of the constitutionalist movement for Modernity that betrayed Iranian women who had been partners in bringing the revolution to fruition, the suffrage made educating all women, young and old, their main goal. By 1978 there were women judges who ruled the courts of law specially the family courts. In 1979 the Sharia law became the law of the land and women were put in the same category as the insane and minors. According to Quran Sooreh (chapter) of Baqara (The Cow), verse # 282; "….in the court of law there must be 2 male witnesses and if there was only one available male you can hear the testimony of two females in place of one man….". According to Sharia laws women do not possess sound judgment and even as witnesses they are one half ½ of a male witness.
The Quran Sooreh (chapter) of Nesa (woman), verse # 11 tells men: "… your son's inheritance must be equal to that of two daughters…". Therefore as of 1979, Iranian girls have been only inheriting one half of what their brothers inherit. Even if there is no son, daughters will only inherit one half and not all.
The legal age of criminal responsibility of children in the secular laws of pre-Khomeinist Islam Iran was 18 years of age. In today's Iran under the sharia laws article 1210(I) of Iran's civil code is set at 15 for the boys and 9 for the girls.
Today's women of Iran are struggling against a tyrannical regime that keeps a strangle hold on it's absolute power and therefore all social strata. This generation does not have any support; their grandmothers who fought for the same rights were able to achieve success when a secular government, sympathetic to their cause, was established after 1925. Even back then, their confrontation was with the same plutocratic and religionist (as opposed to religious) Mullah establishment and not with the government which was on their side.
An advisory on the video footage:
Dear Reader: These videos have been carefully chosen in order to give the proper and best-rounded and non-partisan information on the women’s issues in Iran. Not everything you will see on YouTube is recommendable. Our work is not interested in promoting any ideological slant, instead we promote Secularism for Iran and the movement of an internationally-monitored (not U.N.) referendum in Iran for the people of Iran to choose their preferred form of government without the control or retaliation from the Mullah who have practically no support and have proven unwilling to listen to reason or dialogue with any international body.
We are proud to bring to you wonderful photographs and video documentation of the Iranian Women’s emancipation throughout the years through our article series on wowOwow
The movement of Iranian women for equality and human dignity began over a hundred years ago. Women wholeheartedly participated in the constitutional movement and fought alongside their men, but their rights were ignored in the new constitution of 1906, because of the Mullah establishments opposition. In 1907 the women of Iran established, The Secret Society of the Ladies, operating underground. These women later formed the Organization for the Defense of the Women’s Rights and continued their struggle for equal rights. By 1968 the women of Iran had finally accomplished what they had set out to do in 1888, but it was short lived and once again the Mullahs took it all away when the Islamic revolution succeeded in 1979. Today; the next generations of Iranian women are continuing their struggle for that dream of a permanent freedom.
Iranian women's demonstration for the right to vote, 1962
Mehrangiz Manouchehrian, the first Iranian female senator after receiving the "United Nation's Peace Prise", 1958
Dr. Farrokh Roo Parsa was executed by the Khomeini forces in the spring of 1979 without a trial; she was charged with corrupting the women of Iran through the education she provided.
Magazine Covers before 1979:
International Women's day demonstrators against Khomeini who went back on his word and immediately imposed the Sharia laws when he arrived back in Tehran 2 weeks earlier.
Four generations of Zand women were there with the two youngest being Manda & Banafsheh! Tehran, March 8, 1979