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Silencing the Women's Rights Movement in Iran

Zanestan's editor, Maryam Hosseinkhah, who was one of the 33 women arrested on March 4, 2007, was rearrested a week after the website was shut down." 67 In January 2008, the authorities shut down Zanan, which had been one of the most important women's magazine in Iran for sixteen years.68 Officials claimed it "endangered the spiritual, mental and intellectual health of its readers, gave the impression of insecurity in society, and drew a dark image of the situation of women in Islamic society by publishing certain articles."" 69

The regime regularly shut down the One Million Signatures Campaign's websites, beat and arrested demonstrators, and interrogated and harassed its activists. Increasingly, phones and emails were monitored.70 Aida Saadat, a leading women's rights activist, was interrogated at the bank where she worked before being fired in 2007 for her activities.71 She notes how sensitive the conservative officials were to the demands of the campaign:

The women's movement and the Campaign were attempting to change the law and the law is rooted in Islam. For example, the inheritance laws and blood money are directly from the Koran, so they were very sensitive to our criticism and accused me of corrupting society. They began calling us "the prostitutes' campaign for one million signatures" or "the corrupt campaign for one million signatures." These insults were published in Kayhan.72

However, the Campaign's grassroots nature allowed it to withstand state pressure and continue to build broad-based support." 73 At least partially in response to the Campaign's demands, Ahmadinejad introduced a "Family Protection Law" during the summer of 2008. Uniformly derided as the anti-family law by the women's movement, the proposed law made polygamy and temporary marriage easier for men,74 divorce

[67] Maryam Kashani, Activist Maryam Hosseinkhah Arrested, Rooz Online, Dec. 3, 2007, available at http://www.roozonline.com/english/news/newsitem/article/2007/december/03//activist-maryam-hosseinkhah-arrested-1.html.
[68] Shutting Down Zanan, New York Times, Feb. 7, 2008, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/07/opinion/07thu1.html.
[69] Amnesty International, supra note 46, at 3.
[70] IHRDC Interview with Parvin Ardalan (July 6, 2010) (on file with IHRDC). IHRDC Interview with Aida Saadat (April 15, 2010) (on file with IHRDC).
[71] One morning in February 2006, intelligence agents came to Saadat's office and seized her work computer without a warrant. For three days, plain clothes agents interrogated her at the bank. About a month later, her boss informed her that he was forced to fire her by order of the Ministry of Intelligence because of her activism on the Campaign. IHRDC Interview with Aida Saadat (April 15, 2010) (on file with IHRDC).
[72] IHRDC Interview with Aida Saadat (April 15, 2010) (on file with IHRDC).
[73] Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani, Campaign for Equality 89, (2009).
[74] Article 23, as originally proposed, eliminated the already minimal restrictions on a man marrying multiple wives (for example if the mihriyyih is current and the first wife asks for it, the man must give it to her before marrying an additional wife). It provided that a man could marry additional wives as long as he proves to a court that he has the financial means and will be fair to his wives. Article 23 was later amended to list specific circumstances pursuant to which a married man may marry a second wife. The circumstances include: i) consent of the first wife, ii) inability of the first wife to perform matrimonial duties, iii) the refusal of a wife to be obedient to her husband as described in a court order, iv) wife afflicted with insanity or other incurable diseases, v) sentencing of wife to up to a year in prison for a voluntary crime, or where inability to pay a fine results in imprisonment, vi) addiction of wife to any narcotic or other illicit substance that causes suffering and damages the family, vii) improper and isolative behavior of the wife that makes it difficult to cohabit with her, viii) abandonment of family life by the wife for a period of six months, ix) infertility of wife and x) disappearance of the wife for a period of at least one year, even when the husband is aware of the circumstances causing the wife's "disappearance" - e.g. if she is incarcerated for a year or more. Matn-i Kamil-i Layihihyih Himayat az Khanivadih 1386 [Complete Text of the Family Protection Act of 2008], Iran Gender Equality (February 17, 2010), available at http://familylaw.irangenderequality.com/spip.php?article4

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Sexual Violence, Gender Rights, Death Penalty, Political Killings, Executions, Torture, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, Punishment, Personal Liberty, Arbitrary Detention, Travel Restrictions, Due Process, Right to an Attorney, Illegal Search and Seizure, Free Speech, Right to Protest, Protests, Free Association, Child Rights, Political Freedom, Equality Before the Law, Discrimination