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UN, Iranian Women’s Rights Activists Blast Lack of Progress Under Rouhani

Journalists and analysts continued on Thursday to unpack a report on Iran issued this week by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in which the U.N. diplomat broadly emphasized that there had been no fundamental improvement in Iranian human rights since the election and inauguration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, “despite pledges made by the president during his campaign and after his swearing in.”

Deutsche Welle reported on aspects of Ban’s report that dealt with the plight of Iranian women, extensively quoting the U.N. diplomat’s assessment that “women’s rights activists continue to face arrest and persecution” and that “[w]omen are subject to discrimination, entrenched both in law and in practice.” The report cited multiple examples of institutionalized discrimination: Iran’s penal code officially deems a woman’s life and her testimony in court to be worth half of a man’s, while the country’s civil code among other things allows girls as young as 13 to be married off. DW quoted Faraz Sanei, an Iran researcher attached to Human Rights Watch:

“Rouhani has talked a good talk on what he feels women’s role in civil society should be,” Sanei said. “But he is not going to put himself out on a limb. He is merely nibbling at the periphery.”

“There is a huge disconnect between these laws and reality,” Sanei said. “The majority of graduates from universities around the country are women. So this relatively educated pool of women comes out [after graduation] and faces all these barriers and restrictions in society.”

Meanwhile the Huffington Post on Thursday ran an expose on anti-gay discrimination in Iran, quoting one refugee bluntly evaluating that “either you want to leave, or you want to die.” The punishment for sodomy under Iran’s criminal code is death.

“It’s really hard to leave all you have behind and go to another country,” said Farzam Z., an Iranian refugee who joined HuffPost Live, but refused to reveal his last name or identity. “You regret it every single moment, but there is nothing you can do. Either you want to leave, or you want to die, so I prefer to leave.”

[Photo: The Christian Broadcasting Network / YouTube]