International women’s day in Iran: A Day to Celebrate, or . . . ?

By Abdollah Pakatchi

As the international Women’s day is coming up on March 8th, beholding the events of the past year or two may convince us that this is a day of failure rather than of celebration. No doubt, women are the most affected victims of fundamentalism that has emerged as the principal global threat of today. Yet, the events of this past year, may give us the notion that we are thinking in the right direction. Terrorists and extremists have had an upper hand, humiliating and mistreating women. Terrorist groups, no matter what they call themselves, no matter which part of the world they come from, misogyny is one of their foremost believes. This fact forces us surrender to the deduction that this is a day of failure for women’s rights. This impression is, nevertheless, a trap set forth by extremist to lure us to a wrong conclusion. This reductionist terminology finds itself in battle with the real world. The truth is that women’s struggle, in our time, is far ahead of what it was a decade ago.

How can we assure ourselves that women are progressing in achieving their rights despite that the facts encircling us avert our eyes to some other assumptions? Many women, around the world, find themselves alone when facing fundamentalist terrorists. The conceptual attitudes toward women in parts of Africa, the Middle East, or what is set forth by Iran’s rulers, remind us of the era of slavery. Just a few months ago, the Iraqi northern city of Mosul witnessed captive Iraqi women put “on sale” by ISIS. Earlier, Boko Haram terrorists, in Nigeria, kidnapped 250 school girls proclaiming their decision to sell them as slaves. The Syrian National Coalition, recently, condemned stoning a woman to death, in the city of Hama, by ISIS terrorists. Armed Houthi terrorists in Yemen attacked a group of women activists.  Finally in Iran, government supported groups attacked women by knives or acid. Iran’s Penal Code penalizes women who fail to adhere to a strict dress code with imprisonment or a cash fine. This law has been used by the police or paramilitary forces to target women for intimidation، harassment، physical violence and imprisonment. An Iranian women’ s rights activist once wrote, “… I am a woman، and these days، my womanhood scares me”.  With all these facts in mind, should we celebrate international women’s day or refuge to a wailing wall?

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The fact is should we surrender to this last idea, then we have given our best services to the fundamentalists who are trying to make us believe we have no choice but to capitulate to their backwarded ideas. The truth is being the most affected victims of fundamentalism has, already, made women fervently defying this evil force. In fact what scares the extremist terrorists is the reality that it is the women‘s force that will finally defeat them.

In the past 35 years the Mullahs did not neglect any turpitude toward Iranian women. Throwing acid on young women’s faces showed Mullahs’ frustration towards Iranian women’s progressive movement.  The well-organized “People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran” (PMOI), – also known as MEK- is the main core of resistance against Mullahs dictatorship. This movement is led by a woman, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi. Women hold high ranking positions in this organization.  Maryam Rajavi has been elected as the president by the NCRI, an assembly of different forces that acts as Iranian resistance parliament in exile. Men and women under Mrs. Rajavi’s leadership have long been, directly, engaged in the struggle against fundamentalist rule. They are the ones who are paying the price for freedom not only of women but men as well. They have, already, embraced many victorious achievements.

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Mrs. Rajavi believes that, “Mullahs would collapse should they layaway misogyny”. Iranian regime with its extremist interpretation of “Islam”, and its support for terrorist groups has turned Iran into the epicenter of fundamentalism. The resistance, on the other hand, is taking big measures toward achieving freedom from fundamentalism. Women in this resistance have a major role in defeating “Islamic fundamentalism” and to bring about peace into the region.

The struggle is alive and sprightful. We have a great momentum to celebrate on March 8th.

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