Mahsa Amini: NGO calls on Iran to drop laws discriminating against women amid protests

Mahsa Amini: NGO calls on Iran to drop laws discriminating against women amid protests
Equality Now has called on Iran to drop laws that discriminate against women amid a wave of protests sparked by the fatal beating of Mahsa Amini at the hands of morality police.
3 min read
02 October, 2022
Protests calling for an end to women's oppression in Iran have spread worldwide [Dominika Zarzycka/SOPA/LightRocket via Getty]

International gender equality NGO Equality Now has penned a statement calling on Iran to shed discriminatory laws in the wake of a wave of protest at which women have been at the forefront.

Some 69 organisations, activists, academics, and lawyers from all over the world have signed the statement, titled 'Women, Life, Freedom: A Statement Of Solidarity With Women In Iran', which was released Friday.

'Women, Life, Freedom' has become a rallying cry for protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman allegedly fatally beaten after she was arrested for wearing her headscarf 'improperly'.

"As a global community committed to gender equality, peace, prosperity and stability, we condemn the policies and events that led to the death of Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old Irani woman who died whilst in the custody of Iran’s morality police," read the statement.

"However, more than just investigating the death of Mahsa, the Iranian government must act urgently to reform its laws, policies and practices that put Mahsa in harm’s way in the first place and continue to foster insecurity and inequality in the country."

The signatories called on Iran to repeal Article 638 of the Islamic Penal Code, which allows imprisonment of women for failure to wear prescribed Islamic dress, and review and address other laws and policies that discriminate against women.

They also urged United Nations to press for a "full, fair, effective, independent and impartial investigation".

Protests are being met with a fierce crackdown by Iranian security forces, with at least 52 people killed, according to Amnesty International.

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Equality Now said the repression spoke to the immense challenges those fighting for greater women's rights in Iran and across the Middle East and North Africa region faced.

"In Iran and across the MENA region, the feminist movement is undermined and discredited by state authorities and other reactionary players who portray calls for women and girls as anti-Islamic, anti-family, and as part of the Western agenda," Equality Now's regional MENA representative Dima Dabbous told The New Arab.

"Women's rights organisations and activists across MENA and around the world stand in solidarity with our sisters in Iran in calling for justice and equality, and against religion being misinterpreted and misused as a tool to discriminate against and oppress women and girls."