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Iran Human Rights Documentation Center Celebrates International Women’s Day

March 4, 2011

NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT - On this International Women’s Day, the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC) celebrates the accomplishments, perseverance and dignity of Iranian women, and calls on the Islamic Republic of Iran to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

This year marks the hundredth anniversary of International Women’s Day, which is celebrated internationally on March 8. This year, women in Iran continue to live under laws and practices that discriminate against them, including laws relating to education, marriage, child custody, inheritance rights, and criminal punishments. Women are still sentenced to death by stoning for adultery. The Iranian regime continues to ruthlessly suppress women’s rights activists. It continues to harass, arrest and imprison women for merely collecting signatures for the Million Signature Campaign, demonstrating on behalf of their sons and daughters outside of prisons, and engaging in other non-violent activism. Many women’s rights activists have been forced to flee the country.

IHRDC calls on the Islamic Republic to discard its discriminatory laws that violate international law as set forth in the CEDAW. Adopted by the United Nations in 1979, the CEDAW entered into force in 1980. In 1949, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, drafted by a committee chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt, proclaimed the entitlement of all people to equality before the law and to the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms without distinction of any kind, including any distinction based on sex. The CEDAW was the culmination of 30 years work to codify international legal standards specifically for the equal treatment of women.

A total of 185 States, including many of Iran’s neighbors - Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bahrain, Iraq and Azerbaijan - have ratified the CEDAW. Ninety States have ratified the treaty’s Optional Protocol, which gives individuals and groups the right to bring complaints of violations of their rights directly to the Commission and request investigations. However, the Iranian government has failed to ratify the treaty.

“Let there be no doubt that Iranian women want and deserve to enjoy equality and freedom,” said Renee C. Redman, the Executive Director of IHRDC. “Gender inequality is a matter of concern for both Iranian men and women, as it affects all families. The Islamic Republic must ratify CEDAW and establish its international standards at the national level.”

IHRDC is a non-profit organization based in New Haven, Connecticut. Its staff of human rights lawyers and researchers produce reports on the human rights situation in Iran. The Center’s goal is to encourage an informed dialogue among scholars and the general public in both Iran and abroad. The human rights reports and a database of documents relating to human rights in Iran are available to the public for research and educational purposes on the Center’s website. www.iranhrdc.org.

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