To all women who suffer from inequality
To all activists and organisations of the women's Movement
In the last 26 years, Islamic legislation has deprived Iranian women of the most basic human rights. Forced veil has reduced women to second class citizens. Honour killing is legal and women are condemned to hanging and death by stoning for 'unchaste behaviour'.
Forced segregation has lead to women's isolation, reducing their role in society. The youth are deprived of free association . Homosexuals are pursued as criminals. Polygamy and temporary marriages (Sigheh) are not only legal but they are promoted by the state.
Legislation regarding marriage and divorce, has deprived women of a free choice in finding a spouse, the right to have children, the right to become guardian of their own children, the right to choose employment, the right to work or not to work, the right to travel.
For 26 years, the Iranian theocratic state has secured the imposition of all these anti women laws with street vigilantes, courts, prisons, hanging and stoning to death.
It is 26 years that deprivation from basic rights has made women's lives hell. Addiction, prostitution, suicide, self-immolation are increasing at a frightening rate amongst women.
For the last 26 years, our struggle against inequality has taken many forms. In the streets, in the first demonstrations against forced veil, in prisons and under horrific torture, when young prisoners were raped so that they would not 'ascend to heaven'. Iranian women have fought daily against security forces who attack them for 'insufficient veil', in the corridors of divorce and custody courts, against sexual discrimination in schools and universities… We have fought in so many ways to prove our existence, against these anti-women legislations and the prevailing patriarchal culture.
In recent struggles, we have made sure the world remembers Zahra Kazemi, we have delayed the death by stoning of Hajiyeh and we have managed to obtain the release of Afsaneh Norouzi form prison. However as long as the unequal, anti women legislations remain, women will not escape slavery. As long as these laws exist, women like Atefeh will be executed, others will be stoned to death like Shahgol.
These enslaving laws are the pillars of the religious state in Iran. These laws and all the repressive organs guaranteeing their implementation make sure women are held down completely. Without the abolition of these laws, the separation of state and religion is meaningless. It is up to every free minded person to raise her/his voice against these anti human laws and to struggle for their abolition. The battle to abolish these laws is a struggle to overthrow Iran's Islamic regime and for the establishment of a different order, where women's equality in all aspects are recognized and guaranteed.
When these medieval laws were passed, when they forced the veil on our heads and when they executed political opponents, Western governments watched in quiet satisfaction. Now that our struggles have forced the regime to retreat, now that we have made the world hear our voices, they falsely claim support for us. The experience of women throughout the world, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq has proved that the current political, economic and military powers of the world offer nothing but more poverty and exploitation. Everything we have achieved so far has been through our own efforts and it will be the same in future.
Let us join forces and create a powerful united campaign to eradicate these unequal laws and Islamic punishments against women as soon as possible. Let us make our voice in opposition to these laws heard throughout the world. Let us create such a storm that no one would ever dare impose such retrograde laws on us.
Campaign for the abolition of all legislation confirming inequality and imposing Islamic punishment on Women
8 March Women Organization (Iranian-Afghanistani), International Association of Advanced Women, Women's Committee of the Iranian Association in London,
Simin Azad, Bita Asghari, Maryam Afrasiabpoor, Ashrafsadat Omidmehr, Mahzad Omidmehr, Mahraz Omidmehr, Sina Ansari, Shole Irani, Zivar Bamiri, Parvane Bokah, Nahid Bahmani, Nahid Bagheri, Iran Parvaresh, Maryam Pooya, Asti Pirooti, Laleh Hosseinpoor, Mitra Hoghoughi, Firouzeh Rad, Mahshid Rasti, Saba Rahi, Mino Sotoodeh, Parvaneh Soltani, Azizeh Shahmoradi, Gissoo Shakeri, Elahe Shokraee, Azita Shafazand, Bano Saberi, Mino Samadi, Setare Abassi, Maryam Azimi, Homa Alizadeh, Zahra Erfani, Homa Ghafoori, Akhgar Farzaneh, Homa Fallah, Firouze Fouladi, Hayde Fouladi, Leila Gharaee, Amene Kakabaveh, Zahra Kameli, Ziba Karbasi, Sedighe Mohamadi, Zaman Masoodi, Azar Mossavat, Yassamin Mather, Mahnaz Moghadam, Nahid Naeemi, Hamila Neesgili, Sara Nikoo, Atousa Vali Sichani, Sandra Gibbs