Iran’s war on women
By Loredana Vuoto
When it comes to democracy and freedom, Iranian women and voters are null and void. This was most clearly seen in Iran’s recent election whereby results were rigged in favor of current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Iranian authorities arrested hundreds of activists protesting Iran’s fraudulent June 12 elections, in which Ahmadinejad—backed by the theocratic regime’s hardliners—claimed “victory.” Police used brutal force to quell protests, killing, beating and imprisoning countless pro-democracy demonstrators. Protesters believe the election was fixed and that opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi is the true winner. The street protests have shaken Tehran’s mullocracy to its very foundations, calling into question the authority not only of Ahmadinejad but Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khomeini.But this kind of fascist dictatorship is par for the course in Iran. Most recently, the newly released movie, “The Stoning of Soraya M.,” takes a look at the brutal treatment of women in Iran. Based on a true story and set in Iran in 1986, the film chronicles the life of an Iranian woman stoned to death for being falsely accused by her husband for committing adultery.Adapted from the French-Iranian journalist Freidoune Sahebjam’s 1994 novel of the same name, “The Stoning of Soraya M.,” stars Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ) and Academy Award nominee Shohreh Aghdashloo (House of Sand and Fog). Because of its highly critical attitude toward the Iranian legal system, the novel was banned in Iran. The movie, however, has received rave reviews in the West, where it was a runner-up for the Audience Choice Award and the second runner-up for the Cadillac People’s Choice Award at Toronto’s International Film Festival.In the film, journalist Sahebjam, played by Caviezel, is stranded in a small Iranian village. He is approached by Zahra, portrayed by Aghdashloo. She has a gripping story about her niece, Soraya, who was stoned to death the previous day. Zahra believes the only way for her niece’s death not to be in vain is if this journalist can tell the world her story. Only then will her voice and all of women’s voices be heard. Soraya’s husband, Ali, is determined to free himself of his wife so that he can marry a 14-year-old girl. Not wanting to be financially responsible for Soraya, he concocts a conspiracy against her, spreading the false rumor that she is cheating on him. In Iran, adultery is punishable by stoning. Although higher officials are aware of Ali’s plot, they remain silent throughout the vicious attack on Soraya’s reputation and ultimate death. In harrowing scenes, Soraya is placed in a dug hole up until her waist and is stoned to death by her father, husband and two sons. The entire village gleefully joins in the bloody procession. But in the end, despite her niece’s death, Zahra heroically helps Sahebjam safely flee from the village with Soraya’s story in hand.But in real life in Iran happy endings are rare. During the election protests, a beautiful Iranian woman, Neda Agha Soltan, was shot dead in the streets of Iran. The video of her death reverberated all around the world. Another instance of injustice in Iran also occurred when Clotilde Reiss, a 23-year-old French female teacher was arrested at Tehran’s airport after five-months of working at Isfahan University. She was detained after taking pictures of Iranian protesters and is being accused of espionage. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is rightly outraged and is demanding her release. She is a victim of a barbaric, totalitarian regime. It has committed massive human rights violations against Iranians—especially, women. The ruling clerics have enslaved women as part of their messianic Shiite autocracy. As Abolhassan Banisadr, the first Iranian president after the 1979 Islamic revolution, said, Iran’s leaders are “holding on to power solely by means of violence and terror.”In Iran, for women and voters alike, democracy and the rule of law are but a mirage. They are oppressed by brutal dictators and silenced by force. They must be freed and have their voices heard. In his first national speech since the protests, Ahmadinejad said the election results were valid and that this is “a new beginning” for Iran. This new beginning squashes dissent of any sort and mocks democracy. Only with the help of the United States can a new Iranian era reign where the rights of women and voters can finally flourish.-Loredana Vuoto is president of Eloquence, LLC, a speechwriting and writing services firm in Washington, DC. She is also the Associate Editor of Reflections.Link: http://reflectionsebi.com/index.php?vol=001_vol&iss=006_issue§ion=04_culture&item=01_culture.html