March 8 marked International Women’s Day, a day to reflect on the situation of women throughout the world. With all the talk about Iran’s nuclear program, little attention is being paid to the internal situation, particularly Iran’s ongoing war on women. The regime in Tehran has continued its policy of disenfranchisement and apartheid with respect to women. This week the regime proposed a new draft law supposedly aimed at boosting the country's population, which Amnesty International has claimed would, "reduce Iranian women to baby-making machines."

The law would block employment at certain jobs for Iranian women who choose not to have children, making it clearly discriminatory and unfair. Amnesty's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui noted, "The proposed laws will entrench discriminatory practices and set the rights of women and girls in Iran back by decades.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The legislation is supposedly motivated by the “Supreme Leader's” totalitarian command that Iranians act to increase the country's birth rate. The willingness to implement such discriminatory legislation shows fundamental lack of equality and justice within the Iranian regime, and is reminiscent of a fascist dictatorship. It also affirms the regime’s view that women are meant to be relegated to objects within society, to be controlled, regulated and confined. Obviously, by subjugating women, the mullahs seek to enchain the society as a whole.

Under the tenure of the regime’s smiling president Hassan Rouhani more at least 1,300 people, including dissidents and ethnic and religious minorities, such as Sunnis, Kurds, Arabs and Baluchis, have been executed, dispelling the notion in some quarters that Rouhani may represent the winds of reformist change. His inhumane behavior demonstrates yet again that the extremist Iranian regime is inherently incapable of reform.

Among the executed were almost 30 women, some of whom were hanged in public. This show of savagery dwarfs even the horrific barbarity of Islamic extremists of ISIS (Islamic State) in Iraq and Syria. Last October, the regime executed a young woman, Reyhaneh Jabbari, who was accused of defending herself against being raped by an intelligence agent. These barbaric executions are coupled with inhumane and degrading punishments, such as eye gouging, limb amputation and flogging in public.

This past year has seen repression and discrimination against women increase in many forms. The regime continues to maintain policies which encourage or acquiesce towards gender based violence. As many as 25 women were the victims of heinous attacks involving acid thrown onto their faces by men on motorcycles. The attacks were motivated by a culture of misogyny and repression towards women, and a direct result of the ruling regime and its policy of gender apartheid. The attacks occurred after a law was passed by the regimes parliament to protect citizens who feel "compelled to correct" those who do not adhere to their view of Islamic morality. In reality it legitimated gender based violence against women who were wearing makeup or were accused of being “improperly” veiled.

The regime also offers little protection for stay-at-home women. According to the report by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights on Iran, Ahmad Shaheed, some 66 percent of Iranian women have experienced domestic violence, yet the governmental policies do little to address this issue or provide support for women. The report also states, “Some draft laws…markedly compound discrimination against women by further eroding their protection from forced marriage and rights to education, work and equal wages.” The report goes on to identify ongoing systematic shortcomings with respect to the rights, freedoms and opportunities of women in Iran.

It should also come as no surprise that the Iranian regime executed two women on International Women’s Day, and continues to terrorize women in every aspect of society, while paying lip service to human rights and equality when dealing with the West. Sadly the fate of Iranian women has been left out of the narrative surrounding negotiations with the fascist theocracy in Tehran. Those of us abroad must do all we can to ensure that the regime is not able to silence and suppress the women of Iran, who, in the words of the Iranian opposition leader, Maryam Rajavi, are best positioned to defeat Islamic extremism and fundamentalism.

Samsami is the representative in the United States for the National Council of Resistance of Iran, a coalition of Iranian opposition groups and personalities, seeking the establishment of a democratic, secular and non-nuclear republic in Iran.