Iran Women Say No to Polygamy
Women achieve temporary victory over Iran Family Protection Bill
ELAHE AMANI – WNN Features – Tues 23 Sept, 2008
The Iranian “Family Protection Bill,” which is anything but protective of families, has brought together one of the largest coalitions to oppose a bill since the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
In response to the efforts of this coalition, the Iranian parliament (known in Iran as the Majlis) has removed the two most contested articles of this bill, Articles 23 and 25, postponing the bill’s floor discussion indefinitely. In addition, Iran’s parliament will send the bill back to the Parliamentary Judicial Committee for further revisions.
This rare and temporary victory has energized young women activists in Iran.
Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, has called the Family Protection Bill a sign of the Iranian government’s regression to many centuries ago. In an interview with the editor of the website Change4Equality, Ebadi said she and her colleagues would stage a sit-in at the Parliament (Majlis) Building should the bill be discussed on the Majlis floor.
On Sunday August 31 approx 100 women leaders and activists from various women’s groups such as the One Million Signatures Campaign, Meydaan Zanan, Kanoon Zanan Irani, along with Shirin Ebadi and Simin Behbahani, Iran’s “brave and popular” Iranian woman poet, met with members of parliament and expressed their opposition to the bill.
Simin Behbahani, in an interview with Iranian web publication, The Feminist School, summed up the meeting, “Today, we had a duty, and our duty was to voice the concerns of the women in our country to the representatives. Our visit to the parliament and our objection was because we don’t want future generations to wonder why we did not protest such a bill. So, visiting the parliament and meeting with the MPs was important and necessary.”
Although articles 23 and 25 of Iran’s Family Protection Bill were not the only two articles which brought the large and diverse coalition together, articles 16, 17 and 18 also elicited protest by womn activists.
One of these articles, that is a major concern for many Iranians, impacts Iranian women who marry foreign nationals. According to existing family law, citizenship cannot be passed to children from their mothers. Many Iranian women who have married Afghan and Iraqi men cannot get birth certificates for their children; hence these children cannot go to school. It is estimated that there are 100,000 children today in Iran without birth certificates who are denied their basic human right to education.
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