Foreign Policy

No Joke: UN Names Iran to Women's Rights Commission

| by Reason Foundation

Because women always suffer the most in earthquakes, the United Nations has named the grrrl-powered Islamic Republic of Iran to its Commission on the Status of Women. The UN made the move after Iran withdrew its equally comic bid to join the UN Human Rights Council last week.

The UN made the move with little fanfare. Needless to say, liberal commenters in the west are too preoccupied with picking on the pope and making sure Comedy Central employees stay safe to take much interest. Thus it's left to the conservative media to spotlight Iran's record of government rape, stoning and whipping of wayward doxies. Here's Fox News:

The U.S. currently holds one of the 45 seats on the body, a position set to expire in 2012. The U.S. Mission to the U.N. did not return requests for comment on whether it actively opposed elevating Iran to the women's commission.

Iran's election comes just a week after one of its senior clerics declared that women who wear revealing clothing are to blame for earthquakes, a statement that created an international uproar — but little affected their bid to become an international arbiter of women's rights.

"Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes," said the respected cleric, Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi.

National Review's Jay Nordlinger says by this point the joke has become pretty mainstream:

That is what the U.N. is for: the Kafkaesque. But the news about Iran is slightly hard for me to take just at the moment. I have been at the Oslo Freedom Forum, listening to, among others, Marina Nemat. She is one of the countless girls and women who have been seized by the regime, thrown into Evin Prison — one of the darkest places on earth — tortured, raped, and otherwise battered. The regime has been doing this right from the beginning. Right from about 1980. And it is going on now. Rape, in particular, has been a constant tool of the regime: a tool of punishment and control. Why do we know Marina Nemat’s name, of all the girls and women who have been through this? Once escaped to the West, she wrote a book, Prisoner of Tehran: One Woman’s Story of Survival Inside an Iranian Prison. It is a harrowing, mind-scrambling story...

We are reminded once more of the truth that Solzhenitsyn uttered many years ago: The U.N. is not the united nations but the united governments or regimes. And that body at large is no better than the governments or regimes that compose it. And, though the world has gone far in democratization, there are still many regimes that are as savage as can be imagined. And they sit on such panels as human- and women’s-rights commissions. You know? Understandable — but still, as I said, hard to swallow.

Here is Marina Nemat's book.

If their sisters in the west are remaining silent, however, women in Iran are not. Radio Free Europe reports on a protest by an Iranian women's group:

The letter refers to Iranian laws that gender-equality groups say discriminate against women. These include statutes relating to such matters as divorce, child custody, education, and the ability to choose a husband.

Women have been "arrested, beaten, and imprisoned for peacefully seeking change of such laws," the letter says. "The Iranian government will certainly use [CSW membership] to curtail the progress and advancement of women."

Radio Farda spoke to Shadi Sadr, a women's rights activist and one of the letter's signatories. Sadr explained that for years the UN has asked Iran to sign the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Iran, however, has refused to do so.

"Under such conditions, Iran's attempt to join such an institution [as the CSW] is doomed to fail," Sadr said.

Here's the relevant passage from the UN's press release:

Next, the Council elected 11 new members to fill an equal number of vacancies on the Commission on the Status of Women for four-year terms beginning at the first meeting of the Commission’s fifty-sixth session in 2011 and expiring at the close of its fifty-ninth session in 2015.  The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and Zimbabwe were elected from the Group of African States; Iran and Thailand were elected from the Group of Asian States; Estonia and Georgia were elected from the Group of Eastern European States; Jamaica was elected from the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States; and Belgium, Netherlands and Spain were elected from the Group of Western European and Other States.

While western feminists are declining to make the feminist case against Iran's participation in the commission, I'd like to raise a Quranic objection. The commission's website says it is "dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women." That position is in direct violation of the Holy Quran, which was handed down by Charles Nelson Reilly Himself to the Prophet Muhummunah (PBUH). The holy book makes clear that one woman is equal to half a man in inheritance, in legal testimony, in financial matters, and even in capital murder cases. How can a self-declared Islamic Republic support an equality that goes against a holy book filled with commandments like this:

Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them.

To learn more about women, read Surah 4 in all its sisterly glory. I understand that all religions, in their all-too-slow surrender to enlightenment, have to deny, cover up, or otherwise disappear important sections of their retarded holy books.  But Iran has forefronted its devotion to the literal foundations of its rapist religion. So it's Iran, not the UN, that needs to recognize its choice. You can have liberal, rational modernity or you can try to bend the world government to your religious psychosis. But you can't do both.