An Iranian reformist party has demanded an end to compulsory hijab and laws that legalize child marriage and discrimination against women in education and work.

In a statement to mark International Women’s Day, the Etehad-e Mellat party strongly criticized the many discriminatory laws of the Islamic Republic against women including the compulsory veiling laws and called for their abolition or change.

Etehad-e Mellat, formed in 2015, is the only major Iranian political party with a female secretary general, Azar Mansouri, who was elected by the party’s congress in December 2021. Many of the party’s members are veteran reformist politicians and activists and members of the Islamic Iranian Participation Front (Mosharekat) which was banned in 2009.

In the past few years the anti-compulsory hijab movement which took root with a social media campaign in 2017 called White Wednesdays, has hugely grown. The movement has gained greater momentum since the death in custody of the 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September and the protests that her death sparked.

Many women now are adamant to be hijab free in public. They can be seen defiantly rejecting the head scarf everywhere, from restaurants to banks and in parks where previously, they could not even enter without a head covering.

To re-establish its control over women, authorities have resorted to threats against women again. After the video of a female pharmacist’s argument with a customer who demanded that she should wear the hijab went viral recently, authorities ordered all female pharmacists and pharmacy workers to wear maqna’e, a black veil with stitched front coming down to the chest that is much more conservative than the headscarf, and threatened to shut down the pharmacies if their staff did not comply.

Family laws give men the right to make decisions about women’s lives and Etehad-e Mellat wants to see this change. In a statement, it says that state-sponsored cultural entities and media help promote fundamentalist views and provoke the religiously-minded to restrict women’s rights and freedoms.

The party has also criticized discrimination against women in higher education as women are barred from studying certain subjects or given limited acceptance opportunities to allow more men to enrol. There is also discrimination against women when it comes to holding teaching positions in universities and higher government positions.

Etehad-e Mellat also criticized the authorities for trying to cast women in the role of housewives and men as breadwinners and giving the men the right to stop their wives from working after marriage while also encouraging marriage of girls as young as thirteen.

Iran’s state media often air the views of fundamentalist clerics and others who tell women and girls that it is their religious duty to obey and serve their husbands, to marry young and to raise many children.

Many in Iran are critical of the population policy espoused by the regime to boost the country’s population growth as Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has always demanded. Khamenei has repeatedly said that Iran’s population should increase from 80 million to 150 million.

In a statement released on Sunday, some women’s rights activist groups vowed to continue their struggle against the regime until the victory of the Woman, Life, Freedom movement. In their statement, they enumerated the various discriminations against women in the Islamic Republic including the right to travel abroad without their male family members or husbands’ permission, discriminatory inheritance laws in favor of male inheritors, restrictions on women’s right to seek divorce and to have custody of their children.

Source » iranintl