Outrage as Iran is selected to sit on UN women’s rights panel despite laws banning female sports, making the hijab compulsory and forcing married women to get their husband’s permission to leave the country
- Iran has been elected to sit on UN’s committee on women’s rights for four years
- Masih Alinejad, a US-based activist said the decision to elect Iran was an ‘insult’
- Iran’s laws allow child marriage and stop women travelling without permission
The election of Iran to the UN’s committee on women’s rights has been called an ‘insult’ by rights activists due to the country’s discrimination against women.
Iran was elected among six other nations to sit on ‘Status of Women’ a New-York based UN commission dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.
Of the 54 nations in the UN’s Economic and Social Council 43 of them elected Iran into the women’s rights commission on Tuesday for a four-year term. The UN Watch determined that at least four nations who voted for Iran must have been Western Group democracies.
Iran received the smallest number of votes of those newly elected – which included Lebanon and Pakistan. China and Japan are already commission members.
Under Iranian marriage laws women are unable to leave the country or get a passport without their husband’s permission.
Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during a meeting with army’s air force and air defense staff in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021
Husbands have ‘the right to prevent [their wives] taking up employment that he considers incompatible with family interests or his dignity’, and child marriage is prevalent.
Women cannot take part in certain sports banned by the government and it is compulsory to wear a hijab or face jail.
The Association of Iranian Women in France and their counterparts in Italy and Sweden in a statement: ‘We consider the election of the extremely misogynistic regime of Iran as an insult to all Iranian women, the main victims of this regime during the last four decades.
‘We call on governments, institutions and associations to condemn this decision.’
Masih Alinejad, a US-based activist and founder of My Stealthy Freedom, told the Swedish parliament that the decision to elect Iran onto the UN women’s rights committee was an ‘insult’, Asharq Al-Awsat reports.
She said: ‘A regime that does not allow women to make decisions for their own bodies has been elected to a body to monitor the condition of women around the world.’
Women wear face masks as a preventive measure against the coronavirus as daily life continues in the country amid COVID-19 pandemic in Tehran, Iran, on April 17, 2021
Last month a UN report by Javaid Rehman, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, stated ‘concern’ that ‘the legal age for a girl to marry in the Islamic Republic of Iran is 13 years, with even younger girls allowed to marry with paternal and judicial consent.’
The report found that between ‘March and June 2020, 7,323 marriages involving girls aged 10 to 14 were registered’.
Speaking on gender inequality in Iran Mr Rehman told the UN Human Rights Council: ‘Egregious gender-based discrimination persists in law, practice and societal attitudes, disempowering women and girls from participating and contributing in society.’
Women who do not wear the headscarf in public face jail. Nasrin Sotoudeh, a lawyer who campaigned against laws forcing women in Iran to wear the hijab is facing 38 years behind bars and 148 lashes for speaking out.
Hillel Neuer, director of the Geneva-based group UN Watch, tweeted: ‘No joke: UN elects Iranian regime to top women’s rights body. Electing Ayatollah Khamenei’s Islamic Republic of Iran to protect women’s rights is like making an arsonist into the town fire chief.
‘This is a black day for women’s rights, and for all human rights. Iran’s persecution of women is gross and systematic, both in law and in practice.
‘The UN’s own secretary-general has reported on Iran’s ‘persistent discrimination against women and girls.’
In an online statement Mr Neuer praised the Biden administration for forcing a vote on which nations would be elected to the Commission on the Status of Women.
Mr Neuer added that the US ‘should also speak out to condemn the obscene election of [Iranian Supreme Leader] Ayatollah Khamenei’s regime to a women’s rights body.’