Workers' Liberty #64


Iranian women: reforms an insult

For the first time in 21 years of the rule of the Islamic Republic, and three years into the presidency of a 'reformist' president, girls in primary schools in Tehran (and only in Tehran) will be allowed to wear brightly coloured scarves and coats.

According to Iran's Ministry of Education this will create a 'cheerful atmosphere'. Iranian women and girls in particular need all the cheering they can get. Iran is the only country in the world where the rate of suicide amongst young girls is higher than young men, and there are very good reasons for this. Sexual apartheid and segregation in education, health and even bus and shop queues is a constant reminder that as women they are second class citizens in a patriarchal religious state.

The dress code for Iranian girls of any age is very strict. Even with the new relaxation of colour restrictions, from the age of six girls have to cover their hair and wear long coats. The 'reform' is that girls aged six to 12 attending primary school in Tehran are no longer forced to wear black, brown or navy-blue veils.

Violations of the Islamic dress code are still punishable by flogging. In the wealthy areas of North Tehran girls showing their fringe can buy their way out of this punishment by paying fines, but in poorer districts of Tehran and in the provinces teenage girls caught showing even their fringe face physical punishment by state-sponsored morality police.

Once arrested, girls as young as 10 have to sign a document admitting that 'this will be the last time they will behave like a prostitute'.

Of course, the hypocrisy of the religious state has no limits. While a single hair showing from a scarf is a crime against 'Islam', the clerical state in Iran is presiding over record levels of drug addiction and prostitution. No wonder women are amongst the most forceful opponents of this regime.

Women have been at the forefront of recent protests against the shortage of drinking water, pollution, drug addiction and state complicity in these. Their demands can only be met by the overthrow of this reactionary 'republic' where liberalisation is limited to 'more colourful headscarves' for six-year-olds.

From the Women's Committee of Workers' Left Unity Iran.

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