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Home page > Iranian Women in the Media > Threatening Strike in Front of Parliamentary (Majlis) Building ‎in (...)

Threatening Strike in Front of Parliamentary (Majlis) Building ‎in Iran

Emad Vakili

Tuesday 12 August 2008

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See online : Protests against a New Majlis Bill on Gender Discrimination

The passage of the so-called "Family Protection Bill" by the legal and judicial commission of the ‎eighth Majlis has raised the reaction of experts and women’s rights activists. ‎

The bill was presented to the Majlis last year by the judiciary after being passed by the cabinet, ‎but members of the seventh Majlis initially refused to bring the bill to the Majlis floor. ‎However, the legal and judicial commission of the eights Majlis, in the second month of its ‎inception, retrieved the bill from the archives and passed all portions of the unamended bill, to be ‎considered on the full Majlis floor. ‎

One of the controversial characteristics of this bill is that it makes it easier for men to seek ‎multiple wives. The written approval of the first wife, a condition that has been a legal ‎requirement for decadeds, is no longer necessary for men seeking multiple wives. ‎

The bill was discussed last year in the cultural commission of the seventh Majlis and raised the ‎protest of many, including reformists and female conservatives and deputies, written statement of ‎two thousand supporters of equal rights, written statement of the Islamic Iran Participation Front ‎‎[Jebhey-e Mosharekat], and one grand ayatollah (Ayatollah Sanei). ‎

Shirin Ebadi identified the bill as sign of return to centuries ago and told in an interview with the ‎website Change4Equality that she and her colleagues will stage a sit in at the Majlis building if ‎the bill is considered on the Majlis floor. Shirin Ebadi said, "The new Family Protection Bill, ‎does not only not help protect families, but actually move toward shaking the foundations of ‎family. This bill scraps the precondition of first spouse’s approval for her husband to take a ‎second or third spouse." Shirin Ebadi called on the Majlis leadership committee to prevent the ‎bill from being considered on the Majlis floor. ‎

Azar Mansouri, political deputy of the Islamic Iran Participation Front told ILNA news agency ‎in an interview, "Article 23 of the administration’s proposal to the Majlis is not only a clear ‎violation of women’s human rights, but also an indication of an exploitative view of women, ‎because this Article looks at women like property, meaning that men who are richer can have ‎multiple properties." ‎

Last year, protests against this bill, which is regarded by many experts as a step toward shaking ‎foundations of family, was so much that according to Etemad newspaper, Jamshidi, the ‎judiciary’s spokesperson asked the administration to delete Article 23 from the bill, because the ‎judiciary’s version of the bill which was handed to the administration lacked the Article. ‎Meanwhile, Moosa Ghorbani, member of the judicial and legal commission of Majlis called ‎Article 23 "among the best in the bill," adding, "Actually, Article 23 is the best Article, because ‎it is [authored] based on Islamic and God’s principles." ‎

Article 25 of the bill, which deals with taxing women’s dowry (money that the husband promises ‎to pay to his wife during marriage), also was very controversial. Azar Mansouri says, "imposing ‎taxation on dowry is a kind of interference in an agreement between two parties and will not ‎protect families. The increase in amounts of dowry is a response to inequalities that women face ‎in our country and imposing taxes on dowry is not the answer to this problem. Such responses ‎are not effective and will not have positive affects for society. ‎

Secretary General of the Forward Thinking Women Society told the Aftab news agency, "That a ‎law is passed enabling richer men to marry multiple women because of their wealth reminds us ‎the traditional society of a thousand years back when men were able to marry as many women as ‎possible. Today, conditions have changed and dealing with such issues is enabling men to fulfil ‎their desires." ‎

Even Maryam Behrouzi, Secretary of the conservative "Zeinab Society" said in an interview ‎with the Sarmaye daily that the recent bill is unfair to young men and will be a factor responsible ‎for increasing age of marriage for the youth further than present levels.‎

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