FiLiA STATEMENT: Iran and the UN Women's Rights Committee
Because Iran is a signatory to CEDAW, it has a place at the UN Women’s Rights Committee. This has been reported in the same week that prominent Iranian human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, has been sentenced to 148 lashes and 38 years in jail for her work on emancipating women from forced wearing of the hijab. One of the most dangerous countries in the world in which to be a woman is able to sit on the UN board which judges complaints of women’s rights violations.
FiLiA believes that we as women need states across the world to acknowledge that women’s rights are human rights. While Iran might say in international fora that it cares about women’s rights, the reality on the ground shows the hypocrisy of such statements. Being a signatory to CEDAW with a place at the Women’s Rights Committee is meaningless if signatories still feel able to behave towards women in the way that Iran has done this week.
FiLiA calls on all those who are committed to women’s rights to stand up to say we will not allow Iran to use its membership of or positions on international women’s rights bodies as a way of deflecting from its grave violations of the women in its jurisdiction. We call for the immediate safe release of Nasrin Sotoudeh. We call attention to the fact that enforced hijab is only one symptom of the many human and women’s rights infringements committed by the Iranian government over many years.
Writer, activist and friend of FiLiA Maryam Namazie commented: “Nasrin Sotoudeh’s sham sentence of 38 years in prison and 148 lashes is indicative of the Islamic injustice system in Iran. ‘Encouraging people to corruption and prostitution’ is their codeword for defending women who have challenged compulsory veiling rules.
“5 years of this sentence was tried in absentia. This is a sentence that seems straight out of Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale – only it isn’t fiction.”
Edited for clarity on the operation of CEDAW and the Women’s Rights Committee, with gratitude for the time and energy of the expert who clarified this for us.