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35 Years of Forced Hijab: The Widespread and Systematic Violation of Women's Rights in Iran

March, 2014
Iran is the first country where all women are forced by law to observe hijab laws. Without espousing a clear definition of hijab, Islamic Republic laws consider women who lack “Islamic veil” in “public” as committing a crime punishable by imprisonment and fines. Based on Sharia laws, Islamic hijab implies covering hair and the entire body except for wrists and hands. However, a failure to observe hijab as determined by security or other official forces involve many other instances.

Crime & Impunity: A pioneering report on sexual torture in Iranian Prisons

December, 2012

On 10 December 2012, Justice for Iran launched this first-ever comprehensive report on sexual violence and torture in Iranian prisons.

This weighty report based on testimonials of victims, survivors, witnesses and experts, examines the extent to which women prisoners were systematically subjected to sexual violence as a gender-specific means of silencing young Iranian girls and women dissidents.

Visibility and Visuality: Reframing Gender in the Middle East, North Africa, and Their Diasporas

October, 2012

In conjunction with the Fertile Crescent: Gender, Art, and Society project initiated by the Rutgers Institute for Women and Art, Signs presents a special virtual issue addressing the complexity of women’s lives, livelihoods, and circumstances in North Africa, the Middle East, and their diasporas.

Activism Under the Radar: Volunteer Health Workers in Iran

May, 2009

Few would disagree that the 1979 Iranian revolution, despite the massive participation of women, rapidly became a catastrophe for women’s legal status and social position. Under the Shah, Iran had a mildly forward-looking family law limiting men’s rights to polygamy and unilateral divorce, and, at least theoretically, basing child custody on the best interests of the child. Within two weeks of the revolution, this legislation was annulled, on the grounds that it was against the shari‘a. The new Islamic Republic introduced retrograde laws that, among other things, valued a woman’s life at half of a man’s, and considered two women witnesses to be the equal of one man. The age of marriage as well as maturity for women was reduced to nine. At the same time, the regime promoted motherhood as the only viable life option for women and dismantled the family planning unit the Shah’s regime had founded. In 1989, concerned about the burgeoning population, the Islamic Republic made a volte face and introduced one of the most successful family planning programs in the developing world. In the process of transmitting health messages, however, these volunteers continuously found ways to redefine their mandate and expand their position in other areas of the public sphere.

Secularism vs Communalism: Learning from the Ban on Full Face Covering Veil in France

April, 2011

Three days after the enforcement of the French law that prohibits full face covering, and after the first women law breakers have been fined, international media focus on ’protesting Muslims’, while the voices of the vast majority of presumed Muslims in France are ignored.

One has to raise issue with the absence of proper coverage by English language international media regarding the public stands taken by French citizens of migrant Muslim descent.