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Silencing the Women's Rights Movement in Iran

They detained activists for extended periods without charge, and denied them accces to their families and lawyers. When interrogators allowed contact, they often monitored communications. They held some in solitary confinement for long periods of time, and crammed others into unsanitary and overcrowded cells. Interrogators questioned activists for hours. They attempted to humiliate, shame, and threaten activists, physically assaulted many and possibly raped at least one while she was forcibly drugged. The authorities often charged the women with threatening national security and conspiring with foreign agents to overthrow the Iranian government. They falsely accused many of membership in the outlawed Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK)" 124- a crime punishable by death." 125 They set punishingly high bails for some activists and denied bail to others. They banned some activists from leaving the country.

As the Iranian government continues to attempt to dismantle the women's rights movement, it also continues to further restrict women's family life, and education and employment rights.126 In December 2009 and January 2010, the Judicial Commission of the Iranian Majlis revisited Ahmadinejad's Family Protection Act and re-inserted Articles 23 and 25 in their original forms." 127 A long-running debate on limiting the hours a woman can legally work per week128 recently intensified with a proposal to reduce women's work weeks to 36 hours.129 Opponents lament that such a law would reduce the already minimal presence of women in directorial and management positions in the workforce, and urge that provision of better childcare services should be encouraged by the government.130

In recent months, Hamidreza Haji Baba'i, Iran's Minister of Education, voiced support for marriage of high school girls, and opined that it would not be appropriate for married girls to sit beside unmarried girls

[124] Known by several acronyms including PMOI, MKO, as well as the Mujahedin, the MEK was part of the coalition that deposed the Shah in 1979. However, in the early eighties, it launched several devastating assassinations and terrorist operations against the regime, and during the Iran-Iraq war, joined forces with Saddam Hussein and attacked Iran. Its unpopularity makes membership in the MEK a convenient charge against the regime's enemies. Civil society members are often wrongly accused of membership in the MEK, which is considered an act of waging war against God (or being a muharib) and is subject to execution. Since the 2009 elections, several individuals have been sentenced to death for being part of the MEK. See Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, Deadly Fatwa: Iran's 1988 Prison Massacre 3-5; Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, Violent Aftermath 39, 89 available at http://iranhrdc.org/httpdocs/English/reports.htm; Shish Uzv-i Sazman-i Tiruristiyih Munafiqin dar Intizar-i Idam [Six Members of the Munafiqin Terrorist Group Await Execution], Gerdab, July 31, 2010, available at http://www.gerdab.ir/fa/pages/?cid=1539.
[125] See, e.g., infra note 162 (Shiva Nazar Ahari accused of membership in the MEK); Barguzariyih Dadgah-i Mahdiyeh Golrou va Tafhim-i Ittihamat-i Sangin [Court of Mahdiyeh Golrou Convened and She was Explained her Heavy Charges], Advar News, April 5, 2010, available at http://www.advarnews.us/university/10725.aspx (Mahdiyeh Golrou, a student's rights and women's rights activist currently held in Evin prison's general women's ward charged with, inter alia, "contact and collaboration with the Munafiqin"-the Iranian regime's derogatory term for MEK). See also, infra, note 252 (Parisa Kakaee accused of MEK membership).
[126] See Video File: Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh/VOA/Iranian women in the last year/Part 1, Voice of America, March 21, 2010, available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEmWd8favRc.
[127] Commission-i Qaza-i va Huquq-i ba Tasvib-i Maddiyih 23 Layihihyih Himayat az Khanivadih: dar Dah Mawrid Ijazihyih Izdivaj-i Mujadad bih Mardan Dad [Rights and Legal Commission of the Majlis Ratified article 23 of the Family Protection Act and Granted [Married] Men Ten Conditions Under Which they Can Take Another Wife], ISNA, December 30, 2009, available at http://isna.ir/ISNA/NewsView.aspx?ID=News-1464827; Itmam-i Barrisiyih Layihiyih Himayat az Khanivadih [Finalizing the Discussion on the Family Protection Act], ISNA, February 1, 2010, available at http://isna.ir/ISNA/NewsView.aspx?ID=News-1484488 (law was finalized on February 1, 2010).
[128] For example, on July 21, 2006, Elham Aminzadeh, Tehran's representative to the Majlis, spoke of a provision pursuant to which mothers with disabled children work part time yet get paid fulltime. See Elham Aminzadeh: Sa't-i Kar-i Madaran-i Shaqil-i Darayih Farzand-i Ma'lul Kahish Miyabad [Elham Aminzadeh: Work Hours of Working Mothers with Disabled Children Will be Reduced], ISNA, July 21, 2006, available at http://isna.ir/ISNA/NewsView.aspx?ID=News-754440.
[129] The "Reduction of Office Hours Act" was proposed by the Presidential Center for Women and Family (Markaz-i Umur-i Zanan va Khanivadihyih Riyasat Jumhuri)(website: www.women.org.ir/).
[130] See comments by Nahid Jalali, former representative of Iran in ILO, on January 18, 2009, stating that reducing women's work hours will limit the level of competition brought to the work force by women. Namayandihyih Asbaq-i Kargaran dar ILO: In Tarh Tahdid-i Jiddi Barayih Huzur-i Zanan dar Bazar-i Kar Khahad Bud [Former Representative of Workers in ILO: the New Plan Will be a Serious Threat to the Presence of Women in the Work Field], ISNA (January 18, 2009), available at http://isna.ir/ISNA/NewsView.aspx?ID=News-1266172.

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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