Protest Against Officials' Indifference Toward Violations of the Islamic Dress Code
September 4, 2004
Tehran - After the completion of Friday Prayer, a number of
participants responded to an invitation by Ansar-e Hizbollah
to protest against what they perceive as authorities' inattention
towards [women's] violations of the Islamic dress code (bad
hejabi) throughout the country by marching from Tehran University
to Enqelab (Revolutionary) Square.
At the conclusion of their march, the participants read a
statement in which they demanded that bad hejabi be confronted,
extended efforts be spent on spreading Islamic culture, and
a law for spreading a "culture of chastity" be implemented.
The statement, which was addressed to the representatives
of the Seventh Majles (Parliament), declared, "The honorable
Majles has a clear and undeniable responsibility to retrieve
the plundered social heritage of the Islamic Revolution and
to establish a suitable environment for spiritual and Islamic
moral growth. Any concessions, considerations of expediency
or potential politicking in fulfilling this responsibility
is a gross disloyalty toward the [Parliament] members' constituents.
The enforcement of laws and the reprimand of violators, under
close supervision by the representatives, will guarantee the
establishment of an Islamic and spiritual society. No excuses
in this regard are acceptable. We strongly demand that the
principle-oriented Seventh Majlis fulfill its pledge to establish
a healthy society based on Islamic principles."
In the statement, the Friday Prayer participants stressed
the indisputable role of state TV and radio (Seda and Sima)
in the dissemination of Islamic culture and criticized this
national organization for failing to perform its role successfully.
Meanwhile, Fatima Alia, Tehran Majles representative and
member of the Cultural Commission of the Majlis, in an interview
with Fars News Service, spoke about the Iranian National Dress
Plan, "In a meeting with Mr. Masjid-Jamei, head of the
Public Culture Council, issues surrounding the Iranian National
Dress Plan was discussed. He informed us that the Council
had already begun addressing these issues and that the creation
of the national dolls, Dara and Sara, was the first step in
the implementation of this project." Alia added, "I
pointed out that the dolls are clad in local clothing that
have been designed for dolls and not for people
It is noteworthy that in a recent press conference, President
Mohammad Khatami expressed displeasure at what journalists
described as inappropriate street encounters with women and
girls, saying, "The government and law enforcement may
not have been involved in a considerable number of these encounters,
but this kind of behavior with male or female youth is unjustifiable
even in isolated instances."
Khatami added, "Acts of 'enjoining to do good and forbidding
evil' [from the Quran] has its place."
Appealing to the youth to consider the dominant state of
affairs in society, the President also noted, "Nothing
new has happened to instigate a new wave of concern about
our religion or culture's destruction. And if our religion
and culture are under threat of destruction, those responsible
should be held accountable."
In recent encounters with dress code violations, women and
girls in several provinces were presented with a flower stem
and recitation from the hadith in an effort to encourage them
to properly observe the Islamic dress code.
A number of mosques in Tehran also joined the group of protestors
and presented a petition which announced their readiness "to
start a movement to combat social corruptions." The writers
of the petition urged the representatives of the Seventh Majles,
who are developing a national campaign against dress code
violations (bad hejabi), "to fulfill their duty to institutionalize
and enforce Article 8 of the Constitution regarding the popularization
[of the Quranic verse] to enjoin the good and forbid the evil."
Following this event, state radio and TV reporters interviewed
women and young girls on the streets throughout the city,
soliciting their opinions about the current apparel on the
Meanwhile, in an interview with Mehr News Service, Ferdows
Qomashchi, head of the Women's Affairs Office of the police
force, spoke of a national plan within the police force to
fight against Islamic dress code violations. She explained
that her office was presently conducting research on a national
project which is expected to target Tehran and other provincial
One of the members of the Central Council of Ansar-e Hezbollah
said in an interview with Mehr News Service, "Our main
addressees in these protests are the officials. We expect
them to take action before the pious take matters into their
own hands. We expect them to take action as soon as possible
to prevent the spread of violations of the Islamic dress code."
Concurrent with the Friday march, an exhibition of pictures
depicting examples of bad hejab women on Tehran's streets
was on display.
Meeting of women's groups in protest to the elimination
of "gender equity" from the government's Fourth
August 31, 2004
Tehran - In response to the 7th Majles' (Parliament) elimination
of the phrase, "gender equity" from the government's
Fourth Development Plan, several women's groups held an emergency
meeting on August 28.
The meeting's purpose was to discuss the reasons for the
clause's elimination and plan for future actions.
The meeting was scheduled to be held in the auditorium of
the Center for People's Participation in Nezam Ganjavi Park.
However, several hours before the meeting, the Center's management
informed the organizers that the meeting could not be held
in the auditorium; no explanation was forthcoming. So the
women sat outside and held their meeting on the park's grounds.
In the meeting, Fariba Davoudi Mohajer, head of the Association
of Young Newspaper Journalists, stated that the inclusion
of "gender equity" in the Fourth Plan was the result
of two years of continuous efforts by the previous Parliament's
Women's Commission and the government's Office for Women's
Davoudi Mohajer added, "Even the women representatives
of the Parliament expressed remorse at the elimination of
this phrase and said that they would try to compensate for
this action, which of course, is not possible considering
the Parliament's internal rules."
Shahindokht Mowlavardi, the deputy of international affairs
of the Office for Women's Participation, explained how the
term, "equity" had initially made its way into the
Fourth Plan, "It was suggested that we include the phrase,
"gender equity" instead of "gender equality"
in the hopes that the Guardian Council would not reject the
wording. With the passing of this provision, the government
was obligated to provide the groundwork for women's empowerment
in diverse areas of society."
Guiti Shambayati saw the problem in the Parliament representatives'
unfamiliarity with the meaning of the word, "gender":
"In the Farsi language, the similarity of the words,
jens (sex) and jensiat (gender) created some confusion and
misunderstanding. I don't think the Parliament representatives
were familiar with the concept and meaning of 'gender equity.'
This unfamiliarity is prevalent among ordinary people and
even among the educated. Perhaps more important than protesting
the phrase's elimination, we should be raising social awareness
about the concept of gender equality."
Attorney Zohre Arzani, a member of the NGO, Women's Cultural
Center voiced a different opinion, stating, "In fact,
those who eliminated the provision on gender equity knew exactly
what it meant, but they presented the issue in such a way
as to encourage public opinion against it."
Writer Minoo Morteza Langeroudi identified the problem as
one of women's NGOs not having an organic relationship with
ordinary women, "We have lost a language of understanding
and dialogue with the people, and in our writings, we only
have a specific readership in mind. We need to familiarize
people with such concepts through the distribution of brochures
and leaflets and show the ways in which gender equality and
the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against
Women can impact their daily lives."
Kaveh Mozafari, a member of the NGO, Center for Hastia Andish,
suggested an exhibition of caricatures that satirize gender
stereotypes as a route to sensitize society to gender issues.
Ehteram Shadfar, a member of the NGO, Women's Cultural Center,
argued that the target population should be ordinary people,
and not officials and other power-holders, "We can distribute
our brochures and pamphlets in beauty salons, parks, universities,
and other public places so that women become aware of their
Mahboubeh Abbas Gholizadeh, head of the Center for NGO Skills
Training, proposed that a committee be formed to draft a public
statement addressed to the 7th Parliament expressing opposition
to the provision's elimination. She also suggested that another
statement be sent to the Beijing +10 organizers and encouraged
lobbying and dialogue with government officials and Parliament
The meeting's participants supported the drafting of the
two statements but there was some opposition to lobbying and
dialogue with the government and Parliament.
At the meeting's end, it was decided that all three actions
be implemented and that every NGO representative independently
decide which action to participate in.
Majles (Parliament) eliminates the "establishment
of gender equity" from Iran's Fourth Development Plan
LNA News Service
August 17, 2004
Tehran - The representatives of the Seventh Majles (Parliament)
have eliminated the phrase, "the establishment of gender
equity" from Paragraph H of Article 99 of the government's
Fourth Development Plan. The phrase provided for the drafting
and passing of a comprehensive plan to support women's rights
and empowerment and to establish gender equity in legal, social,
and economic spheres.
Based on a vote by representatives of the previous 6th Majles
and Article 99, the government is obligated to implement measures
aimed at maintaining and promoting social investment, increasing
public satisfaction, and expanding civil institutions during
the first year of the Fourth Plan.
Paragraph H of Article 99 bound the government to create
a comprehensive plan in support of women's rights and women's
empowerment, as well as establishing gender equity in legal,
social, and economic realms.
It is noteworthy that no women representatives of the current
Majles voiced their opposition during the vote to omit the
phrase in question.
"Plan to Establish Counseling Centers" to Decrease
ILNA News Service
August 14, 2004
Tehran - The head of the women's faction in the Majles (Parliament)
announced, "The plan to establish counseling centers
in family courts is a result of several meetings between the
women representatives of the Majles and the judicial courts."
Nafiseh Fayazbakhsh, Parliament representative from Tehran,
in an interview with ILNA emphasized, "This plan is intended
to decrease the divorce rates throughout the country."
She explained, "This plan, which is a gift from the
women's faction of the 7th Majles to all women of the country,
aims to evaluate all domestic disputes from a psychological
perspective before reaching judicial review."
Fayazbakhsh continued, "If domestic disputes presented
to the counseling center can be resolved in partnership with
the Welfare Organization, the Relief Committee, and social
work centers, we will focus our efforts to do so. When it
is determined that the disputes cannot be resolved, the cases
will be sent to the courts."
The head of the women's faction stressed, "We hope that
this plan is approved by the representatives of the Majles
so we can help decrease the divorce rate in Iran."
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