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Iran’s presidential aide calls for greater rights for Iran’s “oppressed” women


Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not known for his espousal of women’s rights. Yet his closest aide, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, has just said that Iran’s “oppressed” women need more rights.

“Women have been oppressed and treated unjustly in our society in the past, and this oppression still exists,” the Iranian president’s chief of staff, was quoted as saying by Iranian newspapers today.

Iranian women’s rights have long been championed by activists abroad, most recently over the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the woman sentenced to be stoned for adultery.

Yet Mashaie’s interview with the semi-official ILNA news agency took place as Iran’s parliament debated a law that, among other things, could give a man the right to take up to three other wives without the consent of his existing spouse.

Consent is currently required, and opponents of the law see it as a retrograde step for women’s rights in a country where a woman’s testimony in court is accorded half of the value of a man’s.

“Today, women play an important role in our society and the current situation of our society is not comparable to the past centuries and decades,” Mashaie said. “We should try to guarantee women’s rights where our religious framework allows us.

“The legislative system should act in a way to take the rights of women into consideration more than ever.”

So what on earth is going on? I obviously have no idea, but  one thing you can be sure of – it has nothing to do with a belief in women’s rights and everything to do with jockeying for power  at the top of Iran’s misogynistic government.

Read the full story in the Guardian.

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