A women’s rights demonstration in Tehran was violently broken up by police today, Iranian feminists say in an exclusive dispatch just received by DIRELAND from Tehran. Women — including elderly women — were beaten, and many were arrested. Among those arrested was Jila Bani Yaghoub, a prominent Iranian journalist, who was led away in handcuffs. Also arrested was disgtinguished septuagenarian poet Simin Behbahani.
The Iranian feminists report, “Today the women’s rights demonstration in Tehran was greeted with violence. We were beaten severely and many of us were arrested, even women above the age of 60 were beaten and arrested. The policewomen were more evil and violent than the policemen. The women used mace and beat us with batons. A large number of activist women were arrested, including the poet Simin Behbahani, who is nearly blind and in her seventies. The whole world must know how we women were beaten today. The current political situation looks ominous, most probably the security forces will descend on the houses of the women activists tonight and arrest them. They could not even tolerate this small expression of dissent from us.”
The demands of the women’s rights demonstration included: banning of polygamy; equal divorce rights: equal child custody rights for mothers and fathers; equal rights in marriage (the right to choose one’s employment freely, and to travel abroad); an increase in the legal age to 18 years (currently 9 year old girls and 15 year-old boys are viewed as adults, making them eligible for trial as adults); equal right in testimony (currently a man’s testimony is worth twice that of a woman’s) and elimination of temporary work contracts which negatively impact women.
One blog reports that many women were so badly injured by the police they had to be hospitalized.
More information will be posted on DIRELAND as it becomes available.
Doug Ireland, a longtime radical journalist and media critic, runs the blog DIRELAND, where this article appeared June 12, 2006.