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A Journey to the Seven Loveless Realms of Violance on the Anniversary of Universal Day to Stop Violence against Women/Mansoureh Shojaee
Monday 7 December 2009, by
Feminist School: Ever since the women mobilized themselves to stand up to domestic, social and legal inequality, and violence, a reaction appeared to crush this movement.
The violence inflicted on women for years, in both the public and private domains, is now coupled with the violence against society. It has become a norm and a habit in the relations between the various levels of society and among the various groups of people, the norm which is met sometimes with resignation and sometimes vengeful reaction .
The evil of violence has taken root in the depths of social and family relations as well as in the depths of our political culture. It shamelessly imposes its ugly presence in society. The injustice that was imposed on women for ages within the privacy of home and domestic borders, supposedly a safe haven harboring freedom and choice, unfortunately has leapt out of the hidden dens of the houses and is roaming hideously, on a larger scale, in our post-election trouble-ridden society. What is worse, it never faces any obstacle to find enough victims to satisfy itself.
This widespread violence, relevant to the critical condition of the society, is in fact a different version of violence against the women. The only difference is that this time it includes almost all members of society.
November 25, or Azar 4 on the Iranian calendar, is the Universal Day to Stop Violence against Women. Fifty years ago to the day, two Dominican Sisters were killed at the hands of the hideous dictator of the Dominican Republic, Omar Trujio. However, still women are facing brutality and violence at home and in the streets, there and everywhere. Due to the anniversary of this occasion, a trip to The Seven Loveless Realms of Violence is a reminder of the role women play in eliminating and uprooting this violence; also, it is an emphasis on the necessity of further utilizing their experiences to promote non-violence in the pro-democracy Green Movement of Iran.
Seven Loveless Realms of Violence
1- Violence inflicted on women after the election June 12, 2009
Real cases of such brutality ranged from beating people in the streets to sexual abuse and rapes that took place in illegal and unregistered detention centers. These cases have been exposed by the media and cyber news and spread from heart to heart.
2- Excessive sexual violence against women
Benefiting from the chaotic post-election atmosphere, the use of violence as the main tool to change the undesirable to desirable seemed to become legitimized. One example is from November 4, as reported in many newspapers. On that day, the police and paramilitary forces beat people violently simply for participating in peaceful demonstrations in the streets. At the same time in another part of the city, on a streets in south part of the city (called Ghiam Dasht), six men raped one women in a small space hidden between two cars.
A lump in my throat and silent cry in my heart, was the reminder of my failed hopes and dreams, that expanding the mobile libraries for women (a UNESCO project I was part of) has faded before the mobile detention centers of Kahrizak and is rest to endâ€¦.
3- Disrespect to women in general and mothers in particular
Respect and care towards women and mothers, which has always existed in traditional Iranian society, has given place to brutality and disrespect, even towards the aged. The Basijis and Revolutionary Guards on duty in November 3 would reason that â€œJust today, even if my own mother would have been among these people, I would beat her.â€ â€”In old times we would call them â€œthose who bit their own motherâ€™s breast.â€
4- Controlling peopleâ€™s daily life
Controlling peopleâ€™s communications, monitoring their daily life, repeatedly summoning them to court without warrant, arresting and imprisoning women activists, and finally issuing execution sentences, which is the extreme form of violence in society, have all become routine and common practice now.
5- Firing women from their jobs and widespread unemployment among women activists involved in the womenâ€™s movement
These terminations happen either within a particular profession, like journalism, to both men and women, but mostly women, and sometimes very deliberately and openly towards women socially active who. In most cases, the regimeâ€™s justifications for its violations, if given any, is irrelevant to the womenâ€™s other social activities. Loss of job and loss of income leads to poverty, which is a prime sign of violence.
6- Violation of peopleâ€™s civil rights (both openly and secretly)
Barring people from leaving the country, which is happening under the â€œnational security protection law,â€ is the regimeâ€™s version of the same domestic violation which happens domestically under â€œkeeping our rights within our four walls.â€ To the violators it seems that there are no other â€œrightsâ€ but those to impose pressure and restriction. In fact, the same macho mentality that finds oneâ€™s own house a convenient place for violence leads one to consider being in charge of a bigger house, the county, a proper place to commits the same violence there.
7- Violence which is inflicted through media.
This violence has taken place for years in various forms, implicitly or explicitly. Among them Voice and Vision (the national radio and television) has the greatest share. The depiction of women as the regime desires, exaggerated and unrealistic, is a form of violation widely practiced through the media. The broadcast of serials which are either a propaganda for polygamy or exaggerate the sacrifices women do for their husbands (allowing them to get second wife because they themselves are not getting pregnant) is an form of promoting violence and legitimizing it. However the most explicit form of violence takes place when, in these days, the regimeâ€™s media use of offensive language when referring to concepts such as equality, freedom, rights, etc, in the context of feminism; they have deceptively and cunningly ridiculed these ideas which have been the outcome of the intellectual activity and wisdom of many since the beginning of the independent women movement up to today.
Media violence, which takes place through the official tribunes under the direct supervision of the Ministry of Guidance, has no effect but to stupefy it audience.
Is it possible to turn these Seven Loveless Realms to Seven City of Love?
The above-mentioned Seven Realms, though it presents only fuzzy pictures of tons of violence inflicted on women, is the main reason that calls for the presence of women in the pro-democracy Green Movement are so vehement, the same common interests that joined the womenâ€™s movement to that of a general pro-democracy movement.
In fact, the more explicit examples of violence against women, domestic or statuary, have penetrated all levels of our society and have now emerged in more widespread forms and dominated even relations between officials and social activists. This happened in spite of the constant efforts of the activists in the women movement to awaken people. Since violence is a familiar notion for women, the paradigm cases of standing against it and confronting it is no exception to the rule and is not separable from past experiences.
At the same time, the womenâ€™s movement raised its own demands of gender equality through the formation of Coalition of Women Movement for Discussing the Women Issues in Election Campaign and by providing its suggestions, and entered into an active phase during the period leading up to the presidential election of 2005 and by benefiting from the relative openness and freedom of that period. In this sensitive time, women activists, using their past experiences, specifically that of the Campaign for One Million Signatures, set forth their general demands, namely to join the Universal Anti-Discrimination Convention, and asked for the amendment of some articles of the law. The main purpose of this coalition was to bring about the womenâ€™s demand for equality from rhetoric to practice. The organization declared its agenda to the candidates for presidential election while spreading its forces among various groups of people, in Tehran and other cities, in order to introduce the Convention and its goals to them through educational workshops. In fact, this was an effort and another step towards introducing to the activities the experience of the women movement in the public arena. However, this movement, in spite of its noticeable success within its short life, dozed off faced with the unfortunate events following the elections, just as other progressive movements demanding legitimacy of certain rights.
However, the Coalition gained lasting qualitative momentums in this process, which was carried on further through the intellectual faction of the movement, into the Green Movement (general protest movement) that would ultimately leave an undeniable impression on it. Though, there is always the danger of being dissolved in the general protest, losing its womenâ€™s identity, if womenâ€™s demands, as it is was set forth originally, are not independently presented.
The essence of this union, without any doubt, rests on the womenâ€™s experiences in the struggle against violence. Employing non-violence means to join a progressive social movement has always been characteristic of womenâ€™s movements. Emphasizing this particular characteristic, as well as employing actual past experiences of the movement in the Green Movement, is undeniable.
From the motherly or sisterly intervention of women in street demonstrations to prevent the beating and arresting youth to the formation of peaceful groups such as Mourning Mothers, Coalition of Families of Political Prisoners, to participating in sit-ins and gatherings in front of Evin prison and the Revolutionary Court; from issuing announcements and declarations, talks, round tables, speeches and articles, all condemning violence, to the campaign against executions and protesting against various restrictions imposed on activists or other citizens, such as illegal warrants to restrict peopleâ€™s movements or making financial help to those who are expelled from their job, all are just an small part of womenâ€™s contribution to the Green Movement.
â€œFace to face talkâ€ with people of various branches of society, learned from the Campaign for One Million Signatures, and in the Coalition of Womenâ€™s Movements, with the aim of arriving at a common peaceful language to solve the basic problems and encouraging the establishment of a tolerant society in the hope of reform and spreading the acceptance of otherness without omitting anyone else, all and all, successful and unsuccessful, all resulted from the womenâ€™s experiences gained during the years of struggle for equality that is now one of the essentials and a necessity on our road to democracy.
â€œFighting the dominated violence in our societyâ€ is the common point of interest where the womenâ€™s movement meets the democratic movement. Hereâ€™s hoping that Seven Realm of Loveless Violence would be turned into Attarâ€™s Seven Cities of Love.â€
Translated By: Mina Zand Siegel
Source in Persian: http://www.iranfemschool.com/spip.php?article3767
1- The Dominicanâ€™s Sisters, who were known as â€˜Butterflies,â€ were imprisoned again and again for their human rights activities. In November 25, 1960 they were brutally killed by the agents of the dictator Omar Trujio. Since 1991, in commemoration of the anniversary of their death, November 25 is recognized as the Universal Day of Fighting Against Violence Against Women. Julia Alvarez, the Dominican writer, in her charming novel â€œIn the Time of the Butterfliesâ€ has written a fictionalize account of this true story. Hassan Mortazavi, an Iranian translator, has translated it into Persian. This book was published by Nashr-e Digar in 2006.