This is what Ahmadinejad thinks of women’s rights:
The Iranian authorities have ordered the family of Neda Agha Soltan out of their Tehran home after shocking images of her death were circulated around the world.
Neighbours said that her family no longer lives in the four-floor apartment building on Meshkini Street, in eastern Tehran, having been forced to move since she was killed. The police did not hand the body back to her family, her funeral was cancelled, she was buried without letting her family know and the government banned mourning ceremonies at mosques, the neighbours said.
“We just know that they [the family] were forced to leave their flat,” a neighbour said. The Guardian was unable to contact the family directly to confirm if they had been forced to leave.
The government is also accusing protesters of killing Soltan, describing her as a martyr of the Basij militia. Javan, a pro-government newspaper, has gone so far as to blame the recently expelled BBC correspondent, Jon Leyne, of hiring “thugs” to shoot her so he could make a documentary film.
In accordance with Persian tradition, the family had put up a mourning announcement and attached a black banner to the building.
But the police took them down, refusing to allow the family to show any signs of mourning. The next day they were ordered to move out. Since then, neighbours have received suspicious calls warning them not to discuss her death with anyone and not to make any protest.
Working with a conservative parliament, his (Ahmadinejad’s) government spent millions on propaganda telling women their proper place is in the home. Universities capped the number of female students admitted. In 2005, the regime launched a “culture of modesty” campaign aimed at enforcing stricter veiling. It replaced the Center for Women’s Participation, founded under the liberal presidency of Mohammad Khatami, with the Center for Women and Family, whose exclusive goal is to promote “modesty.”
Most shockingly, last summer Ahmadinejad and his supporters attempted to push a “family protection law” through parliament, easing restrictions on polygamy and taxing mehriyeh, the traditional payment a husband gives a wife upon marriage. In a country where 42 percent of young women looking for a job are out of work, Ahmadinejad went so far as to cite polygamy as a solution to female unemployment. And mehriyeh offers women some modicum of financial independence within a legal system that severely limits their rights to divorce, child custody, and inheritance.
This can only fan the flames of a growing awareness and acceptance by women, that the lot which the current establishment wishes them to endure isn’t acceptable. In Iran women do not have equal divorce, child custody, or inheritance rights, and a Iranian woman’s testimony in court carries only half the weight of a man’s. The film I saw the other night showed the horrors which such inequality before the law and social degradation inevitably lead to. Would a Mousavi presidency be a panacea? Probably not, but it would be a damned sight better than what there is now.