Much more than just a university ban against women.
While America’s college feminists lament the bitter struggles they face in getting someone to pay for their birth control, an all-too real war on college women is being waged as Iranian women are banned by the Islamist regime from study at Iran’s colleges and universities.
Among the nearly 80 fields of study apparently deemed inappropriate by the Iranian government for feminine academic pursuit include nuclear physics, engineering, computer science, chemistry business management, education and English.
While one of the purported reasons cited by Iranian authorities for the decision was a lack of employer demand for women graduates, evidenced by an unemployment rate for women under 30 at 28 percent, Iranian Science Minister Kamran Daneshjoo claimed the main factor to be a need to find a greater “balance” in gender enrollment.
Specifically, Iran has the highest ratio of female to male undergraduates in the world, with women representing 65 percent of Iranian undergraduates and about 70 percent of its science graduates, academic success which has led to an increased willingness of families to seek higher education for their daughters.
Now, however, in the eyes of Iran’s theocratic regime the gender collegiate imbalance has grown far too lopsided and dangerous, especially among Iranian mullahs who have become openly distressed about the rising social effects of higher educational achievement for women.
While those concerns include declining birth and marriage rates, the far more problematic issue is the danger liberated and educated women pose to Iran’s Islamic and highly misogynistic regime, one with a long and brutal track record of oppression and subjugation of women.
In fact, a 2006 United Nations report found that “violence against women in the Islamic Republic of Iran is ingrained,” violence and hatred which finds its expression in a number of distressingly harsh ways.
For example, Iranian girls can be legally forced to marry at the age of 13, with efforts currently underway to lower that threshold to nine; women without the right to divorce their husbands; polygamy which is legal and encouraged by the government; a penal code punishment of stoning for women who commit adultery; and enforced Islamic dress codes, violations which are punished by jail and lashings.
Yet, for many Iranian men, loathing of women can also include a correspondingly equal fear, one evidenced in one of Ayatollah Khomeini’s last sermons, which dealt with the “three threats” confronting Islam: America, Jews, and women.
One of those feminine menaces apparently includes a woman’s ability to generate catastrophic geological events through inappropriate attire, as determined by one Iranian cleric, Hojjat ol-eslam Kazem Sediqi, who said a 2003 earthquake that killed 30,000 was because “Many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray and spread adultery in society, which increases earthquakes.”
That view was echoed by leaders in the Iranian government, such as Sadeg Mahsooli, Iran’s then-Minister of Welfare and Social Security, who chimed in: “We cannot invent a system that prevents earthquakes, but God has created this system and that is to avoid sins, to pray, to seek forgiveness, pay alms and self-sacrifice.”
So, given all that, it’s not surprising then that the Islamist regime is now clamping down on the collegiate opportunities being afforded Iranian women, especially since political dissent in Iran since its 1979 revolution has been mostly generated in universities, thus making them incubators of subversion, with feminist student groups regarded as the most mutinous.
In fact, Iranian Noble Laureate Shirin Ebadi maintains the new educational restrictions on women are designed specifically to undermine Iran’s feminist movement, a movement which has been gaining strength since the first election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the Iranian presidency in 2005.
At that time, women activists began organizing university sit-ins, street demonstrations and petition campaigns for gender equality, efforts which reached new heights in 2009 as thousands of women marched in the forefront of the protests following Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election.
Those demonstrations, which gave rise to Iran’s Green Movement and its centric calls to democracy and human rights, came at a fierce price, as the Iranian government brutally beat and arrested thousands, including 300 women who currently languish as political prisoners in Iranian prisons.
Unfortunately, those women will soon enjoy the company of one more, 42-year-old Iranian journalist and women’s rights activist, Zhila Bani-Yaghoub, who recently left to serve a one-year sentence at Iran’s Evin prison.
Zhila’s seditious crimes included charges of “spreading propaganda against the regime” and “insulting” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in articles she wrote at the time of Iran’s 2009 presidential elections.
At Evin Prison, Bani-Yaghoub will be reunited with 34 of her friends and journalistic colleagues, all of whom reside in one small room, an unsurprising fact given Iran’s reputation as one of the world’s worst jailers of women.
One example of Iranian correctional horrors was offered by a former guard at Evin prison, who said guards would marry female virgin prisoners the night before their scheduled executions given that it is illegal in Iran to execute a woman who is a virgin.
As such, the Iranian government would arrange a “wedding” ceremony to be conducted the night before an execution, at which point the guard would rape his new “wife” to make it acceptable to then put her to death. Not surprisingly, the former guard said the girls feared the night of the rape more deeply than their upcoming executions.
Ironically, Zhila Bani-Yaghoub’s trip to Evin prison came days after Iran finished hosting the 16th Non-Aligned Movement summit, a recent gathering in which the member countries discussed ways to “eliminate international problems.”
At that conference Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi took the time to extol the positive contributions that Iran has made to the cause of women’s rights, when he said, “One of the goals of the glorious Revolution of the Islamic Republic of Iran was the improvement of women’s genuine position and standing in the society, and we can witness its materialization after 32 years.”
Moreover, that enlightened development, according to Iran’s First Lady A’zamossadat Farahi, could now provide a roadmap for those nations struggling with the vexing problem of women’s rights, saying, that Iran “enjoys valuable experiences in various areas of women’s affairs,” experiences the Islamist Republic could “share with other countries.”
Of course, for a growing number of oppressed and brutalized Iranian women and girls, they have their own “valuable experiences” in women’s affairs, ones which the Iranian government is loath to share.
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