Womenâ€™s united front against the â€œFamily protection Billâ€ wins dividends
translated by: Karineh Kanantz
Tuesday 2 September 2008, by
Feminist School: Sunday 31st of August 2008, group representing the women activists against the â€œFamily protection Billâ€ met with the members of the Iranian parliament.
The proposal to meet the MPs was reached with Shirin Ebadi by different women organizations
which was represented as a united front against the discriminatory laws.
From 12 oâ€™clock till 2 separate groups met with the MPs to raise their objection towards the family law, representatives such as Shirin Ebadi, Simin Behbahani, Rakhshan banietemad, Mansoureh Shojaie, Zhila Bani Yaghob, Shahla Sherkat, Mahboubeh Abasgholi Zadeh, Shadi Sadr, Khadije Moghadam, Zahra Arzani, Minou Mortazi, Asiye Amini, Giti Pourfazel, Farkhondeh Ehtesabyan, Farideh Ghayeb, Mahboubeh Hosein Zadeh, Gohar Shemirani, Fakhri Nami and representatives of the campaign for One Million Signatures from Esfahan.
After a long wait in the lobby of the parliament and after complaints and one stage it was decided to leave the parliament by some of the representatives, secretary of Mr Tajri the MP for Tehran and the assistant to the judiciary commissioner guided the women to his office and apologized and explained that he was unable to find Mrs. Shirin Ebadi and her friends.
The first person to speak was Simin behbahani â€œMr tajri I did not vote for the eighth parliament and you can say you are not my MP and hence we have nothing to discuss but I am here because of the importance of this Bill and its effects on the lives of the women in this country, hence my intention to meet with you and other MPs to test and find out how truthful you are and if you do care for the people. Now I want to see if this meeting would eliminate my doubts about you and the othersâ€ .
With these words Mr Tajr was made to understand that these women are no ordinary women!
The next speaker was Shirin Ebadi that first explained the negativity of the Bill and asked if it is right that this Bill has been removed from the agenda?
In response Mr tajri said â€œThe house has not called the Bill yet! I mean it has been removed from the agendaâ€
Mrs Ebadi stated â€œ I say well done to those who designed this Bill in such a way that would bring together representatives of fundamentalist and secular women together to disagree with it and this needed an expert and not everyone could have achieved thisâ€ !!
And added â€œOur representatives donâ€™t just sit in the house to spite people but should listen To peopleâ€™s problemsâ€
Image of Iranian women rights activists, when they were going to Parliament. From right to left: Giti Pour-fazel (Lawyer), Simin Behbahni (Poet), Shirin Ebadi (Nobel peace prize winner), Mansoureh Shojaee (Feminist School group), Mahboube Abbasgholizade (womenâ€™s fild)
Mr Tajri thanked Mrs Ebadi and added that the Iranian people voted for the constitution and this means they voted for religious laws and to the Shia religion but as a result of some realities must bring about suitable changes and it is at this time that those responsible are to reflect, even if the religious law is not permitting, the council of the state expediency will try to facilitate.
Our aim with this Bill was to strengthen the structure of the family and if this is not possible we can discuss the same way, as stated in the Quran the multiple marriages was with the condition of observance of justice and if it is not observed then it should not be executed or by eating meets which are ceremonially unclean are in some cases declared permissible, in any case this Bill has been filtered by the commission but it needs to be looked at the details more closely.
Mr tajri asked the women representatives to read the Bill again and voice their criticisms and concerns of the Bill.
Afterwards mansoureh Shojai one of the representatives presented the letters send in against the Bill from different towns and cities and explained that not only the group has read the Bill on many occasions and that has also asked for advice by experts on issues of women and family.
The next person to speak was Rakhshan Bani Etemad which began by saying â€œI speak from the society as a woman and on behalf of the women in the society. That what has caused our crisis is the political outlook at social issues and being against the Bill is not a political issue but a family one. The composition of the family in Iran is weak and crushed and has been carrying the heavy burdens economically, socially and politically and is being destroyed and now instead of helping this Bill will annihilate the familyâ€
She stated to Mr Tajr that â€œLike your sister I am giving you a sisterly advice, your view towards this Bill should be as father, a father that is deciding the destiny of his daughterâ€
Shirn Ebadi in her interview with Feminist School summed up the meeting as positive and the presence of the womenâ€™s movement representatives was turning point in the history of the womenâ€™s struggle.
Simin Behbahani in her interview with Feminist school also summed up the meeting as: Today we had a duty and our duty was to voice the concerns of our countries women to the ones responsible. Our objection was because we do not want the future generation to ask why we did not show any reaction to such a Bill in the parliament and this move was very important and required even though for me as they kept us waiting for no reason but however their response by apologizing made my anger with them a little bit easier to handle and I hope that todayâ€™s action will leave the desired effect to respect and honor the women in societyâ€