This week the United Nations approved the Islamic Republic of Iran’s bid to join its Commission on the Status of Women. To quote a particularly prescient observation: “When a country that stones women to death for adultery is chosen to serve in a leadership role on the U.N.’s Commission on the Status of Women, we know most of what we need to know about the U.N.”
Yes. That Iran. The very same Republic with a rich history of raping, stoning, and whipping women.
Reason magazine’s Tim Cavanaugh compiles media reactions. Says Cavanaugh:
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.
Iranian women themselves, too close to the storm to find humor in the UN’s ironic choice, protest this particularly egregious judgment error in global governance:
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.
Was the UN aiming at irony? The relevant portion of its press release suggests that every portion of the world should enjoy representation in this esteemed Commission, evidently regardless of whether the government actually promotes or even protects women:
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.
Finally, Cavanaugh points out that many Western feminist groups have declined to make the case for Iranian women’s liberation. Perhaps these groups are afraid to step on the toes of cultures whose mores simply do not conform to our own, or perhaps women’s groups are simply afraid of incurring the same terrorist threats that South Park encountered with its controversial 200th episode.
Rather than attempt to persuade American feminists into making a Western case for protecting women from tyrannical governments, Cavanaugh reliles on the Quran to make the case for him:
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.
Indeed. There are many good sovereignty-based arguments for countries who wish to work out governmental problems amongst themselves. But for world government to condone and in fact to promote such egregious treatment carries a powerful statement.
The United Nations has long been a flaccid protector of human rights. This move to endorse Iran’s horrific treatment of women further compromises the UN’s legitimacy, and speaks to the need for a principled, private revolution in favor of real human rights and, indeed, for women to protect the rights of women everywhere.
Cross-Posted at The New Agenda.