Women vs. God

Women's rights under Islamic Republic


Women vs. God
by Jahanshah Rashidian

In 1936, Reza Shah ordered the public unveiling of women in Iran. The clergy vigorously protested; women of the mercantile middle class stayed home, refusing to appear „naked” in public. Lower middle class and rural women began to work outside the home, most of them in small textile shops. It is the labour of women and children, with their small fingers, which forms the backbone of the carpet industry in Iran.

Any benefits relating to housing or childcare which they receive are given not to them but to their husbands. Their working conditions are harsh, with long hours, low pay and inadequate maternity provisions.

In 1964, Mohammad Reza Shah gave women the right to vote. Family planning was introduced, with free contraceptives and legalised abortion. Clerical jobs in government ministries, banks and commercial offices were filled with women. Women from the middle class entered the professions.

In 1975, the Family Protection Act was passed. It gave women the right to divorce their husbands, required the husband to obtain the first wife’s consent before taking a second, and fixed the legal age of marriage at 16. It placed some restrictions on “sigheh” (temporary marriage), the custom where the husband enjoys all the privileges of marriage for a fixed period of time, usually a few days or hours. After being discarded, the woman generally becomes a prostitute. The Act was a genuine reform; but its impact was limited to those women who could afford to defy their husbands and fathers.

Also in 1975, the Shah spent $50 million to finance the Women’s Organisation of Iran, headed by his sister, Ashraf Pahlavi, a woman with a bad reputation. The Organisation sent students into the countryside in a literacy campaign modelled after the US Peace Corps.

Shah's reforms of women's right actually brought women into public life in Iran. For the upper and middle class, women’s partial emancipation was part of their adaptation to western behaviour. For the Shah, it was a way of challenging the authority of clergy, who repeatedly called for a return to Islamic values.

Ayatollah Khomeini, upon arriving in Paris in October, 1979, was asked by a reporter what the position of women would be in an Islamic society. He replied, “Women are free in the realm of education and in the professions, just as men are. Islam does not exclude women from social life but elevates them to a platform where they are not objectified, where they can assume responsibility in the structure of the Islamic government in accordance with their development”. Immediately upon coming to power, Khomeini declared the Family Protection Act null and void and announced a ban on abortion and contraceptives.

On March 7, 1979, on the eve of International Women’s Day, Khomeini decreed that all women employed by the government must wear the “chador” (an all-enveloping black veil), an extension of four walls of the home.

Thousands of women filled the streets in protest. For three days they marched and rallied; on the third day staged a sit-in at the Palace of Justice, demanding a legal guarantee for their right to choose what to wear and where to work, at home and in society at large.

Women’s demonstrations erupted in Kurdistan, Azarbijan and Isfahan as well. They chanted “At the dawn of freedom, there is no freedom.” The women were attacked by Khomeini’s supporters, armed with knives, who cursed them, yelling “Wear a head or get your head rapped.” They stood at windows along the parade route and exposed their genitals: “This is what you want, you whores!” The women’s male supporters linked arms and formed a protective barrier around them.

The demonstrations forced Khomeini to retreat; he claimed to have said only that women should be modestly dressed. Nevertheless, thousands of women were fired from their jobs in the beginning of 1079, accused of looking like “western dolls”.

On June 29, 1980, mandatory veiling was imposed. No exceptions are made for women of religions other than Islam.

March, 1979. On the eve of the referendum for the Islamic Republic, Khomeini reiterated his promises in order to lure voters to the polls. “Islam has considered women’s right to be higher than those of men. Women have the right to vote which is denied them in the West. Our women can vote and be elected. They are free in all aspects of their lives and can freely choose from most areas of employment. We promise you that in the Islamic government, every person will be free to achieve his or her rights.”

But what does freedom mean to the Islamic Republic? The first women to lose their jobs were the radio and television announcers, whose presence on the airwaves was considered immodest. Then women lawyers were forbidden to practice and dismissed from their jobs at the Justice Department. Their efforts to retain their positions met with failure. Thousands of workers were laid off in the industrial slowdown which followed the revolution, among them a disproportionate number of women. Children centres were closed down and the new labour laws did nothing to relieve their right.

October 2, 1979. A bill is passed, establishing a special civil court to handle matrimonial cases. It legalised polygamy and sigheh and lowers the marriage age for girls to 13 years. In fact, girls can be married at age of 9 with their father’s consent. Women can divorce their husbands only if they stipulate that possibility in a contract made prior to the marriage.

The school have been segregated by sexes, thus barring women from religious seminaries and technical colleges and halting the education of girls in villages.

The school books have been revised, showing veiled women in the home, raising children and cooking; Darwin’s theory of evolution has been expunged. The schools are used to hunt down critics of the regime; attempts are made to trick children into releasing incriminating information about their parents.

Women’s participation in sports has been crippled; they are forbidden to enter international contests and are required to wear voluminous clothing, even while swimming. Men and women are segregated at all times, at public stadiums, at the beach and etc.

Islamic morality demands an end to pleasure: wine, music, dancing, chess (for a few years) and backgammon, have been all banned. Women’s part in theatre and cinema stipulates that female actors wear Islamic veil.

Soon after the revolution, Mr. Bani Sadr, who has lived 15 years in France, was asked by a television interviewer if it was true that women’s hair emits sexually enticing rays and if this is why Islam requires the veil. “Yes, it is true,” was his reply.

In November 1079, a conference drew 2,500 women, who met by candlelight when the Tehran authorities cut off the electricity at their meeting place. A rally on International Women’s Day, 1980, drew a crowd of 7,000-8,000.

The regime has responded by forming its own women’s group, which produced a newspaper, “The Moslem Women,” which the main task was to inculcate misogynistic norms into mind of women.

The Constitution was announced on December 1, 1979. It regards motherhood as women’s reason for being. “Since the family is the unit of Islamic society, all relevant rules and regulations and planning should be done to facilitate its formation and to guard its continuity on the basis of Islamic laws.” (Article 10).

The Bill of Retribution, a criminal law passed in 1981, stipulated that women have half the value of men in the eyes of the law. In this Bill, a murderer may pay a sum of money, called blood money, to his victim's family in order to escape punishment by death. If the murderer is a man and the victim is a woman, the woman's family is required to pay half the man's blood money if he is to receive the death sentence; this is because her life is equal to only half of his, so the family is required to pay for the other half. If they do not pay, the man can pay them the women's blood money and be set free.

The Bill of Retribution was the platform to which Khomeini has elevated Iranian women.


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more from Jahanshah Rashidian

clergy have used God for their own benefit!

by Tahirih (not verified) on

Leaders of Religion, in every age, have hindered their people from attaining the shores of eternal salvation, inasmuch as they held the reins of authority in their mighty grasp.

Some for the lust of leadership, others through want of knowledge and understanding, have been the cause of the deprivation of the people.

God will hold responsible religious leaders for this tragedy,who have presumed to speak for Him throughout history. Their attempts to make the Word of God a PRIVATE preserve, and its exposition a means for PERSONAL aggrandizement, have been the greatest single handicap against which the advancement of civilization has struggled.


Rashidian: head wrap vs. head rap

by Mazloom on

 Great article as usual.


I believe by “Wear a head or get your head rapped”, you are trying to say: “Wear a head wrap or get your head rapped”.  I believe you are trying to translate “ya rosari, ya tosari”.  In that case a better translation would be, “either head wrap, or head rap”.  If you include the original Farsi slur it would be better, as:. 

The women were attacked by Khomeini’s supporters, armed with knives, who cursed them, yelling “ya rosary, ya tosari” (either head wrap, or head rap).



women have been given the same rights and respect

by Seagull (not verified) on

Tahirih surely set the precedence for all women some 150 years ago at a time when women were oppressed even in the west.
Thank you Tahirih
and Thank you Mr. Rashidian


Ali, Read on & you will eventually inflame by fires of our pains

by on your face (not verified) on

Ali, your posts all over in this site are indicative of a paid idiot. You are a pathetic stooge of Moslem Hajj caravan butchers and charlatans in Iran who assemble brutal thugs and arm them with knives, batons, masks, acids, and guns.

Read on and you will eventually inflame by fires of our pains and sufferings under Islam rule.


Thank you again Mr Rashidian ,I enjoyed your article.

by Tahirih (not verified) on

More than 150 years ago in Badasht,a brave woman by the nick name of Tahirih did unveil herself and the following is a brief synapsis of what she said and done.
The truth of this historic event has been concealed from Iranians by Islamic clergy .To silence her ,she was killed later on by clergy,and her body was trown to a well.
It is time for all of us to hear about it and judge for ourselves!

"suddenly the figure of Táhirih, adorned and unveiled, appeared before the eyes of the assembled companions. Consternation immediately seized the entire gathering. All stood aghast before this sudden and most unexpected apparition. To behold her face unveiled was to them inconceivable. Even to gaze at her shadow was a thing which they deemed improper.

“Quietly, silently, and . Without the least premeditation, and in language which bore a striking resemblance to that of the Qur’án, she delivered her appeal with matchless eloquence and profound fervour. She concluded her address with this verse of the Qur’án: ‘Verily, amid gardens and rivers shall the pious dwell in the seat of truth, in the presence of the potent King. Immediately after, she declared: ‘I am the Word which the Qá’im is to utter, the Word which shall put to flight the chiefs and nobles of the earth!

“She then turned her face towards attendance of that meeting and said: ‘This day is the day of festivity and universal rejoicing,’ she added, ‘the day on which the fetters of the past are burst asunder. Let those who have shared in this great achievement arise and embrace each other".

Islamic law towards women was abolished that day!!!!!!!!


It is amazing how mixing

by Ali (not verified) on

It is amazing how mixing half-truths with selective facts, wrong reasoning and a political agenda, can produce ideological "propaganda".

Mr Rashidian, you are nothing but a propagandist. But no matter how hard you try you will never be able to eliminate God from people's lives!!


Remember Khomeini's quote

by 18 (not verified) on

Remember Khomeini's quote after the women's demonstration in 1978? "Hejab in Islam is not mandetory". The News paper clippings are available here:


And look what happened. He lied about everything.


Chronolgy of Usurption of

by NR (not verified) on

Chronolgy of Usurption of Women's Equal Rights in 1979


How Women in Iran were Silenced and enchained by the Mullahs after the Regressive Revolution of 1979.


After the fall of the Pahlavi regime in February 1979, Iran's religious leaders imposed strict rules on women's clothing in public. The following is a chronology of women's protests in the early days. From In the Shadow of Islam by Azar Tabari and Nahid Yeganeh. See photos here. Also see video at Rahai-Zan TV.

10-11 Feb 1979
Overthrow of the government of Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtias and establishment of the first Islamic government administration under the premiership of Mehdi Bazargan.

26 Feb. 1979
Family Protection Law suspended by a letter issued by the Office of Ayatollah Khomeini. A Government spokesman later stated that the old law would remain in effect until new legislation was drafted.

3 March 1979
Issuing of decrees appointing women as judges was stopped. Qualified women were told to apply for administrative posts in the judiciary.

4 March 19799
Khomeini, in a speech addressed to thousands of women who had gone to Qom to pay him respect, said that in Islam the right to divorce is the prerogative of the husband, but women could specify in the marriage contract that in case of maltreatment by the husband they are entitled to divorce themselves.

6 March 1979
Minister of Defense, General Madani, declared that women would not be drafted into the army in future. All women serving their conscription terms were dismissed and released from military service.

7 March 1979

During a speech addressed to thousands of visitors in Qom, Khomeini said that women were not prohibited from taking jobs, but that they must wear the Islamic veil at work.

8 Mach 1979
Demonstration of women to celebrate International Women's Day, and to protest against Khomeini's statement regarding the veil. From early hours of the morning meetings were held in girl's high schools and in Tehran University. Marches, spontaneously decided upon in such meetings, got on their way during the day , some converging on Tehran University, others going to the Office of the Prime Minister Bazargan, others heading for the Ministry of Justice. Some of the slogans of the demonstrators were: 'Freedom in our culture; to stay at home is our shame' 'Liberty and equality are our undeniable rights' ' We will fight against compulsory veil; down with dictatorship' ' In the dawn of freedom, we already lack freedom' 'Women's Day of Emancipation is neither Western, nor Eastern, it is international' 'Freedom does not take rules and regulations".
In several incidents women demonstrators were physically attacked on the streets. Revolutionary Guards fired in the air to disperse women demonstrators, estimated by the press at 15,000, from the streets around the Prime Minister's office. Many meetings, planned in advance by various women's groups on the occasion of International WOmen's Day, were held throughout the day, each drawing an audience of several thousands.

Watch the Video of Demonstration against Compulsory Hejab in 1979

Watch the video of Iranian women demonstrating against compulsory veil and hejab in 1979:
Iranian women are shouting: "we didn't have a revolution to go back in time or to regress"--where our freedom and rights are taken away. They are also saying that Khomeini promised us not to take our liberties from us but we all know what happened



Mr. Rashidian

by Persian Cat (not verified) on

Nicely Written


Let's not forget acid pouring on Iranian women faces.

by Irandokht (not verified) on

Islam has brought Iranians nothing but pain and misery.


Have the Courage to Say No to Islam

by Well Said By an Iranian (not verified) on