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posted June 18, 2001 10:46     Click Here to See the Profile for Ardalan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This regime came to power with Cassette and would fall with Internet

By Safa Haeri, IPS Editor

STOCKHOLM 15 June (IPS) Participants from Tehran assured Friday a conference held in the Swedish Capital of Stockholm that the present Islamic regime has no other choice than to meet the growing demands of Iranian women, mostly the young ones.

Talking to the 12th International Conference of the Iranian Women's Studies Foundation (ICIWSF), Mrs. Shadi Sadr, a journalist and junior lawyer said the problems facing Iranian women could not be separated from the difficulties of the young generation and most be met through "slow evolution of deep rooted cultural traditions".

"The culture of men's domination over women is denying many rights to the female sex, overshadowing the life of the majority of women in Islamic society like Iran", she noted, adding however that the development of women in all fields, from economic to administration, from cultural to social activities is much faster than the path of the regime's evolution.

Entitled "What Is To Be Done", the Conference, that would end on Sunday 17 June and is organised jointly by the Women's Network, the Centre for Women's studies, University of Stockholm and is sponsored by the Workers Education Association debates the situation and problems of Iranian women at home and abroad.

"The history of Iran has consisted, for the most part, of male-dominated narratives and accounts of men's exploits and achievements. The IWSF attempts to offer a different perspective on Iran's history by protecting, preserving and propagating the works of Iranian women", the organizers stressed

According to Mrs. Sadr, the situation of the women, the difficulties they face, including prostitution, unemployment, ill treatment at home at the hands of their husbands, fathers or brothers etc. could not be separated from the general trend of reforms.

"Women in Iran are facing a series of laws and traditions that starts from the bottom of the society to reach the higher echelon. To reform these traditions needs time and relentless efforts", she further said, adding that like most of Iranians, women also want their lot to get better through reforms, not revolution.

The 18 years-old Ms. Anita Nik-khah, a student in Electricity and Electronics both surprised and drew sharp protests from the mostly female audience at the Stockholm University when she insisted that she had traveled without any prior authorisation from her father, as the law requires.

For Ms. Sepideh Zarrin Panah, a part time journalist and researcher, the (eight year Iran-Iraq) War helped many Iranian women, particularly in the lower classes, to reach economic independence.

She said that at present, sixty per cent of the Iranian university students are girls while the number of women in the administration has increased more than ten times in the last decade.

In her opinion, the Iranian women have reached the conclusion that it is they who must solve their specific problems and not waiting for men to grant them their due rights.

She cited education, employment and marriage as young Iranian women's three main problems "like everywhere else", she assumed, adding that there are senior clerics who are "genuinely preoccupied" with the discriminations against women and help overcome these "shortcomings".

She added that if the thorny question of unemployment that touches a majority of Iranian women finds a solution, many other problems, like prostitution and suicide that become "very preoccupying" would decrease.

But the audience did not always agreed, as some women noted that the various difficulties and discriminations Iranian women faces comes from Islamic laws they described as "degrading, inhuman and insulting to mankind's intelligence".

The audience also regretted that the panelists who had come from Iran refused to "call a cat, cat", evading basic problems of Iranian women in an Islamic regime in the one hand and stressing on the necessity of advancing reforms process on the other.

"This regime came to power with cassettes and would go down the sink with internet", said one member of the audience, referring to the cassettes containing speeches of Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that were distributed clandestinely throughout Iran before the Islamic revolution of 1979, calling on the Iranians to rise up against the Pahlavi regime.

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