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Violent Incidents Against Women Continue In Iran As Parliament Refuses Action

Women's rights have come under renewed attacks by hardliners in Iran as a cleric in Qom has said women should submit to men’s will and authority to avoid violence by their husbands and parliament has said aside a law to protect women.

Iranian news agencies on March 2 quoted Mohammad Reza Zibaeinejad, a cleric in Qom who chairs the Research Center for Women and Family Issues, as saying that "Not all cases of violence are unjustified."

The cleric attested that "There are two types of violence: justified and unjustified," and went on to say that at times, using violence against women and children can be justified!

The spokesman for the Iranian government Ali Rabiei said recently that "the bill to protect women's dignity and keeping them safe from violence" that was ratified by the Rouhani administration on January 4 and was handed over to the Parliament for final approval, "has been lost".

Vice President for women and family affairs Massoumeh Ebtekar had called the bill "the government's gift to Iran's resilient women" when it was first approved at a cabinet meeting in January.

The bill, however, is now pushed into oblivion as the Majles says it does not know where it is physically. Some Iranian lawyers have said the bill was too conservative and could do little to protect women.

While reports in Iranian media indicate that at least three women, including one at the age of 14 were victims of honor killing and family violence in Iran during the past year, Ebtekar told the press that there were very few cases of family violence in Iran, although she later acknowledged that even one single case of violence against women is not acceptable.    

In another development, a group of thugs recently attacked female rock climbers in Dorcheh, near Isfahan after the local religious leader condemned mixed outings by women and men. Subsequently, Mehdi Nasr Esfahani, an official at the provincial mountaineering federation has banned rock climbing for women in Isfahan Province.

The official said that the ban on rock climbing for women was motivated by "sensitivities" on the part of some provincial officials.

Earlier reports from Isfahan say the Friday Prayers Imam of Isfahan has criticized female rock climbers for travelling to the site and climbing the rocks in mixed groups with men.

Following protests by the religious and provincial officials, mountaineering clubs announced that women can do rock climbing at indoor facilities.

Some Iranian social media users have criticized Iranian officials for blaming women for violations of Islamic norms. One angry woman tweeted: "Why don't they kill girls as soon as they are born? Women in Iran are not allowed to travel abroad without their husband's permission. Riding bicycles and climbing rocks are also banned." She observed that everyone in the Islamic Republic is intruding on women's privacy.

In February many Iranian human rights advocates as well as international human rights organizations and members of the European Parliament condemned the Iranian judiciary for executing 3 women including Zahra Esmaili, who died of a heart attack shortly before her execution after watching 16 other inmates being hanged. Her dead body was nonetheless hanged in Gohardasht Prison in Karaj.

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