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E-ZAN: Voice of Women Against Fundamentalism in Iran

Iran is the largest women's prison.
April 1, 2005


March 8th, 2005, marked the 94th anniversary of International Women's Day around the world. As women in most countries have made progress in many areas, Iranian women are still struggling for their most basic and elementary rights. WFAFI believes Iran is the largest prison for women. There are widespread women's rights abuses that ranges from economic discrimination to political suppression. Forcing women into prostitution, sex trade and human trafficking, execution of minors, rape, and torture including stoning to death all reflect the extent of atrocities committed against women by the Islamic Fundamentalist rulers in Tehran. Girls between ages 10 to 17 are the prime victims of sexual slavery in Iran. In Tehran alone, 4000 street girls roam the city on daily basis and are subjected to sexual and physical violence. Reports indicate that 90% of the runaway girls end up in prostitution or sold in Persian Gulf human trafficking market.

Women and girls bare the brunt of Iran's poor economic conditions. 700,000 children, aged 10 to 14, work in black labor market in Iran. The latest statistics released by Iran's Organization of Management and Planning shows that 51% of the country's population live below the poverty line. Iranís deputy Health Minister, Ali Akbar Sayari, admits that 20% of Iranian people go hungry daily. 67% of the students deprived of education are girls between 11 and 16 years old. Only 11% of Iranian women are employed. The rate of mental and psychological problems among women is almost 26%. In the western and southern regions of the country, suicides are mostly self-immolations among women, which rates more than 6 in every 100,000 women. In a western province of Iran, deputy of governor on women's affairs, Heyran Pournajaf, reports "About 70% of those who commit suicide in Ilam are women.î The director general of social affairs of the governor reports that "90% of these women were between 17 and 35 years old. The real number of suicides is much higher than what we have." The World Health Organization has placed Iran on the top 3rd ranking country on death by suicide.

In October 2004, Khameiniís hard-line paper, Jumhori Eslami, reports on the strategy to use non governmental organizations (NGOís), especially the womenís organizations, to support and strengthen the security of the Islamic Republic. The article recommends that the government should infiltrate more in these organizations and groups to advance the agenda of ìNational Securityî. It also suggests organizations who are formed outside of this framework should be considered as ìenemies of Iranís national securityî and puppets of US and Zionism. Forooz Rejaeifar, a 47-year-old mother of three and former hostage taker, is now leading an NGO to train 15000 recruits for one of three missions: killing members of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, slaughtering Israelis (all are deemed "occupiers of Palestine," according to official Iranian policy) or assassinating author Salman Rushdie.

Tehranís regime is a prime sponsor of international terrorism and a state-sponsor of violence against women. Therefore, the struggle of the Iranian women against this regime is extremely important in the field of international peace and security. Recognizing the linkage between the commitments made in the Beijing Platform for Action, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and the Millennium Declaration, and emphasizing that sustainable peace is a prerequisite for development, Iranian women believe due focus should be given to their suffering and quest for freedom and equality. On the nuclear crisis with Tehran, Iranian women emphasize on an Iranian solution and trust a woman-led movement against the regime. Tehranís nuclear disarmament, peace, democracy and gender equality is only possible through Iraniansí endeavor to unseat the fundamentalist regime in Tehran.

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