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Stop state violence against women in Iran!
The Islamic Republic of Iran is perpetrating state violence against women, often using religious pretexts to justify such violence, affecting women regardless of their backgrounds. State violence against women takes place on the streets committed by Basij (State-sanctioned religious police); in courts - when State violence takes the form of legal codification that defies the very standards that Iran has committed itself to; and in jails – when it becomes part of the method of extracting confessions in jail, with rape condoned as a means of torture. Indeed anywhere in the regime.
All women in Iran are affected by actual or potential state violence. Ubiquitous state violence creates a suffocating atmosphere of fear, because it can befall any woman at any time. Even men who are dissenters are also liable to be raped in prison. State violence is an important means for breeding a politics of intimidation and fear, which is the mode of governance used by the current Iranian regime.
Furthermore, the Iranian regime is using culture and religion to justify state violence against women. This is a particularly dangerous mode of legitimation that claims that the state is simply obeying supposedly divine commands in inflicting such violence for which it bears no responsibility.
This campaign by the Institute for Women’s Empowerment (IWE)-Iran, therefore focuses acutely on challenging and countering state violence.
The campaign goal is to mobilise public opinion, both national and international, to stop Iranian state violence against women.
The campaign will build an e-broadcasting website with built in blog functions. This is the most effective way of reaching women in Iran and enabling them to report violations, given the censorship on freedom of expression in various arena.
It is now difficult and dangerous for women to meet face-to-face in Iran - as they are often subject to arrest and detention for political organizing. This makes more openly visible tools such as street theatre unfeasible.
All mainstream media, such as TV and Radio, are also government controlled. Hence, using television or creating radio dramas is also unfeasible.
In light of this, cyber-space has become the alternative space for civil society in Iran. Statistics from the Iranian Ministry of Information Technology indicate that more than 23 million persons out of a total population of 70 million can access the Internet, and that fifty percent of these Internet users are using broadband. Women form a significant proportion of Internet users in Iran (although government statistics do not provide gender-disaggregated information).
For this reason, the most comprehensive and critical alternative media available to Iranians are often based outside of Iran, with anti-filtering software a necessity for bypassing government control.
As such, a secure website with documentary films and blog functions is the most appropriate tool for this campaign. Moreover, given the need to provide information in Farsi and English, a multi-lingual website will facilitate conversations across languages. Beyond media and blogging, through the website, other critical tools for organizing can be hosted, such as online petitions, photo journalism, and podcasts.
By having content that is reported through first-hand interviews and citizens’ uploads, this site will be able to attract a large number of viewers, and help to spread awareness and current grassroots information. For viewers and users inside Iran, the security of the website will be very important, and thus considerable attention is being given to ensuring this.