Monday, September 08, 2008

Shia and honor killings

I should not have assumed (in comments) that Shia have not committed honor killings. 

By Hugh Sykes
BBC News, Tehran

Parvin Ardalan, women's rights activist (Photo:
Parvin Ardalan was blocked from travelling abroad to receive an award

Four more women in Iran have been sentenced to jail - six months behind bars - for campaigning for women's rights.

They were accused of "spreading propaganda" against the Islamic system here - specifically for taking part in the Million Signatures Campaign for equal rights for women.

One of those sentenced, Parvin Ardalan, was awarded the Olof Palme Prize this year - on her way to collect the honour, her passport was seized at Imam Khomeini International Airport in Teheran, and she was unable to travel.

She had to accept the award by video-link.

An estimated 50 women have been detained since the signatures campaign began.


Women in Iran have severely restricted freedom of choice, and no equality with men.

A married woman must obtain her husband's permission before taking a job outside their home.

A man may have up to four wives. A woman may not have up to four husbands.

Women must observe the Islamic dress code - showing as little hair as possible, and their arms, their legs and their feet must be covered.

There is no protection against so-called honour killings for women who are raped; a husband - or a father - who kills the rape victim cannot be prosecuted and sent to jail for murder.

"This is inhuman," a law professor at Tehran University, Rosa Gharachorloo, told me.

Most of the people I have spoken to here agree: they believe rape victims should be comforted, not killed.

Women can be stopped and inspected by Gasht-e-Ershad, Ministry of Islamic Guidance patrols.

They have vehicles that look like police cars. They are often seen outside main metro stations in Teheran, checking women for hair or dress infringements.

They also go to parks, to ensure that couples sitting or walking together are married, engaged or related.


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