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Call for Solidarity: Freedom and Gender Equality in Iran

Over a month ago a group of Iranian women’s activists called for all defenders of women’s rights, women’s organizations and networks to take action in support of the women’s and civil rights movements in Iran, and to prepare measures of support and protest under the banner of “freedom and gender equality in Iran”.  They requested, in case of repression in Iran, that these organizations act as the voices across the world of their sisters in Iran, and in that way demonstrate solidarity with them.  Thus far many women’s and human rights organizations have responded to this appeal and some of them are planning events for March. Now the women of the world are calling to everyone to show solidarity with the people of Iran.  Please join us.  The names of individuals and organizations supporting the appeal and holding events will be announced as confirmed.

Show Your Support by Siging Our Statement Below

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A Message from Iran

(via Stop FGM Kurdistan)

Dear Reader, 

I have a message from Iran for you, written in a simple language, away from the many big words and grand expressions. I know that hearing the name Iran brings to mind images and memories of a different place – where different laws and government exist and people live in a different style.  But different how? 

Well, you may agree with me that there are some restrictions that you feel as soon as you become a part of the everyday life within the Iranian society. You become especially unlucky when an Iranian law applies to you and even more unlucky if you are woman. There is beauty to everyday life in Iran, great food, warm hospitality, and the rich culture and history that multicultural Iran holds. But if you are a professional, activist, writer etc. and you are there to make a difference and have something to say which doesn’t go according to the government’s line or the ruling clergymen – then you would feel those restrictions even more. 

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UPDATE: Aceh: Civil society groups advocate for repeal of Qanun Jinayah (Islamic Criminal Legal Code)

The Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) international solidarity network and the Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women! (SKSW Campaign) join their allies in Indonesia in continuing to call for the repeal of a law (or 'qanun') passed by the Aceh Legislative Council (DPRD) on Monday 14 September 2009, that expands the range of violent punishments for alleged moral and sexual transgressions, including stoning to death for “adultery” and 100 lashes for homosexuality.

Such cruel punishments can never be justified in the name of ‘religion’, ‘culture’ or ‘tradition’. For the first time, stoning to death would be codified in the Indonesian legal system and Islamic jurisdiction would be expanded into criminal law. We welcome the news that the Governor of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam has expressly stated that he would not sign the Qanun Jinayah, and that he has returned it to the Aceh legislature. The governor is also reported to be providing an opportunity for Aceh’s civil society groups to propose an improved set of laws in the place of Qanun Jinayah.

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Study shows: Majority of Kurdish Women in Iraq Victims of Genital Mutilation

Arbil (Iraq) | Berlin: On the occasion of the International Action Day against Female Genital Mutilation, a representative empirical study on Female Genital Mutilation in Iraqi-Kurdistan is going to be presented on February 6.

A 40 page report summarizes the results of a one-and-a-half year empirical study conducted by the German relief organization WADI.  The numbers presented in the report are alarming: A vast majority of women in Iraqi-Kurdistan have undergone FGM with some regions reaching a top ratio of more than 80 percent.

The study provides comprehensive evidence on the underlying dynamics of FGM and helps understand, why mothers who themselves experienced the horror of mutilation allow FGM to be practiced on their daughters. A vast majority of women who adhere to the practice believe it to be a religious obligation in Islam. Others refer to tradition and state that  "it has always been like that ".

The study also shows a clear correlation between the level of education and the attitude towards FGM. Still, the FGM rate amongst university graduates is around 30 percent. But it becomes clear that with an increasing social status, women are more likely to question harmful traditions and alleged religious obligations.

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Indian Gov't to make honour killing heinous crime

By Nagendar Sharma, Hindustan Times

The government is set to amend the 150-year-old Indian Penal Code to define honour killing as a heinous crime by adding a new section to the criminal law, with punishment ranging from life imprisonment to even a death sentence.

The move follows the growing demands to curb the social menace of killing young girls defying their families in marriage related issues, in some north Indian states particularly Haryana, Western Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.

So far, honour killing is not a classified crime in India, and no separate data is available of such cases with the National Crime Records Bureau.

The proposal moved by Home Ministry, has been cleared by the Law Ministry and the government is likely to move a Bill in Parliament in the coming Budget session, after getting the cabinet nod.

“We have completed our preparations to put in place a strong deterrent against the pervert practice of honour killings not only against those who carry it out, but against those who abet it also,” Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily told Hindustan Times.

The government has shelved its plan to bring a fresh law to curb such killings, and has decided to amend the IPC, the law that prescribes punishment for criminal offences.

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Peace Laureates Unite to Condemn Treatment of Shirin Ebadi and Iranian Activists

In an open letter to Iranian President Ahmadi Nejad, 14 Nobel Peace Prize Laureatescondemn Iran's intimidation of Shirin Ebadi and other Iranian activists.  The letter was signed by Wangari Maathai, Jody Williams, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, His Holiness The Dalai Lama, F.W. de Klerk, and 9 other Nobel Peace Laureates.  The letter warns Ahmadi Nejad's government that the crackdown on opposition will not end the demands for human rights.

Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadi Nejad
President, Islamic Republic of Iran
Pasteur Avenue
Tehran, Iran  13168-43311

21 January 2010

To President Ahmadi Nejad:

We are deeply distressed to learn of the recent actions taken against our sister Nobel Peace Laureate Dr. Shirin Ebadi.  We urge the Islamic Republic of Iran to immediately release all funds belonging to Dr. Ebadi and her husband and stop the harassment of Dr. Ebadi and her family.

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Report on Violence against Women’s Rights Activists in Iran

By Change for Equality

The following report, outlines the pressures faced by activists involved in the One Million Signatures Campaign, including arrests, summons, sentences, travel bans, and search of property.  The report was compiled in November 2009 and updated in late December 2009.  Several of the members of the Campaign who have been arrested in the past few weeks days are not included in the report, including:

Somayeh Rashidi, was arrested on December 19 after appearing in court in response to a summons. Her home had been searched on December 14 and her personal property was seized.  There is no information about the reason for her arrest and she has not been allowed to visit with her family or lawyer since her arrests. In a telephone call to her family, Somayeh informed them that she is being held in Ward 209 of Evin prison, which is managed by the Intelligence Ministry.

Shiva Nazar Ahari, a member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters and a member of the One Million Signatures Campaign was arrested on her way to attend the funeral of Ayatollah Montazeri, in Qom, on December 20.  This is the second time she has been arrested in relation to her human rights activities since the Presidential elections in June.  The first time, she was arrested on June 14th and released almost four months on a bail of $202,039.  Her arrest is part of an ongoing crackdown against the members of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters.  Currently seven members of this human rights organization are in prison.

Atiyeh Yousefi, activist in the One Million Signatures Campaign in Rasht [Gilan province, northern Iran], is currently being held in Lakan Prison in Rasht, without any reason having been given for her detention.  Five days after Atiyeh Yousefi’s arrest, her family still has no information on the arrest warrant issued for her, and have not managed to arrange a meeting with the judge presiding over her case.  Atiyeh Yousefi was arrested while seeking to give assistance to a young man who had been severely beaten by plainclothes security officers on the day of Ashura [27th December 2009].  On 1st January her family was able to visit her in Lakan Prison.  They gave a good report of her morale and stated that she is being subjected to lengthy and ongoing interrogations.

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Mourning Mothers Arrested in Laleh Park, Tehran


On Saturday afternoon (9th January) a number of the Mourning Mothers and their supporters were once again arrested in Laleh Park in Tehran.  According to one of the Mourning Mothers, around thirty women were arrested. (Change for Equality)

“A number of us fled.  They stopped the cars of those who had cars and who had gone towards them.  The families of those arrested went to the Vozara Detention Centre in order to inquire about their condition.  One mother commented that "they read the names out at Vozara.  Tomorrow at 9 a.m. all the families and friends are due to meet at Vozara and the judge who is supervising the case will also come."

The Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has demanded the release of the Mourning Mothers in a statement, in the following words:

"Today at sunset thirty of the Mourning Mothers and their supporters were arrested in Laleh Park and its environs after an assault by over one hundred members of the security forces and plain clothes officers, after which they were transferred to the Vozara Detention Centre."

Hadi Ghaemi, spokesperson for the Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, said:

"In no culture is it acceptable to deal with mothers in such a way, let alone when those who claim to be the defenders of morality are dealing with mothers who have seen their children become victims of injustice.  The Islamic Republic of Iran must recognize that the Mourning Mothers and their supporters will be not be satisfied except by an appropriate response to their demands."

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Davos 2010 - an appeal to end FGM now

An appeal to the World Economic Forum to help to end female genital mutilation, within our lifetimes.

Julia Lalla-Maharajh is one of 5 finalists in YouTube Davos shortlist hoping to work with world leaders to end female genital mutilation.  Watch this and if you like it, go vote for it and this effort at

Davos is the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, held in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland between 27-31 January, 2010.  The meeting brings together top business leaders, international political leaders, and journalists to discuss the most pressing issues facing the world today. In 2010, the organizing theme is, "Improve the State of the World: Rethink, Redesign and Rebuild". 

You can find out more at

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No News on Atiyeh Yousefi’s Situation

By Change for Equality

Atiyeh Yousefi, activist in the One Million Signatures Campaign in Rasht [Gilan province, northern Iran], is currently being held in Lakan Prison in Rasht, without any reason having been given for her detention.

Five days after Atiyeh Yousefi’s arrest, her family still has no information on the arrest warrant issued for her, and have not managed to arrange a meeting with the judge presiding over her case.

Atiyeh Yousefi was arrested while seeking to give assistance to a young man who had been severely beaten by plainclothes security officers on the day of Ashura [27th December 2009].

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