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Where Do Women Stand In Iran's Upcoming Elections?

HuffPost logo HuffPost 23/02/2016 Simin Nouri

On February 26, Iranians will vote in the first round of "elections" for the country's 290-seat parliament and the 88-member assembly of experts, a group of Islamic theologians tasked with electing another Supreme Leader in the event of Ali Khamenei's death.
According to Iranian media outlets, over 60 percent of some 12,000 candidates were disqualified by the all-powerful Guardian Council of the Constitution. The Guardian Council consists of six religious experts chosen by the Supreme Leader, and six "lawyers" appointed by the head of the judiciary, which is itself appointed by the Supreme Leader. This Council is tasked with filtering candidates in terms of their loyalty to the regime and dedication "in thought and in practice," to Khomeinist doctrine of the "guardianship of the jurisprudent" (Wilayat al-Faqih).
Therefore, only 161 Islamic theologians were approved to run for the assembly of experts. Not a single one of Iran's 35 million women made the list. Not a single woman could be invited to the inner circle of power, the circle responsible for picking the guide to whom the Constitution will submit its body and soul. In the sham parliamentary elections, most women vying for seats were disqualified.

Former women MPs have not taken sufficient initiative to alter the country's misogynist legislation.

Nine of the members of the outgoing government were women, all of them fierce partisans of the Sharia of the mullahs. Former women MPs have not taken sufficient initiative to alter the country's misogynist legislation, nor have they done anything to lift the suffering Iranian women have endured for the past 37 years.
These nine MPs have not protested against the killings of 63 women under President Hassan Rouhani. They voted to enact gender segregation in the workplace, the ban on women traveling without the permission of their husbands or fathers, financial penalties for women not wearing headscarves 'properly,' and an arsenal of other policies that encroach on women's privacy.
It is perhaps better not to dwell on the number of women in the upcoming parliament, since the mullahs in chadors (a garment worn by Muslim women) are more misogynistic than their counterparts in turbans.
In an interview on February 15 with the state-run news agency Fars, Maryam Varzdar, a so-called women's expert, did not hesitate to declare that "the majlis (assembly) is an important arena in which legislative competence, and not the presence of women, must count. We believe that women are more interested in women's issues, while an elected official entering parliament represents all the people."
According to Varzdar, "the majlis must be pious, devout and God-fearing." She considers the Iranian-Islamic way of life to be under threat. "The virtue and vice of society depends on the virtue and vice of of women," she said.
It seems that these mullahs, these men and women who purport to be the representatives of Islam, have completely forgotten the fact that the first person who believed in the revelation of the Qur'an and the message of the Prophet Muhammad was his wife Khadija, a remarkable woman who was a considerable help in the difficult early days of Islam. Khadija was the first convert to Islam and an advisor to the Prophet of Islam. She was followed by a long line of independent women and officials, who the Prophet allowed to take part in political, economic, social and religious decisions.
Finally, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, fearing a popular boycott of the elections, has issued a series of fatwas (religious edicts) to encourage the people to vote. Even though women generally need the permission of their fathers or husbands to leave the house, Khamenei said that "a woman's participation in elections is not subject to her husband's consent."
This post first appeared on HuffPost France. It has been translated into English and edited for clarity.

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