This AWTWNS news packet for the week of 2 March 2015 contains one article. It may be reproduced or used in any way, in whole or in part, as long as it is credited.
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“Women of the world unite to smash the patriarchal imperialist system and religious fundamentalism!”
2 March 2015. A World to Win News Service. The following was written by 8 March Women’s Organisation (Iran-Afghanistan) (www.8mars.com firstname.lastname@example.org https://facebook.com/8Mars.org).
Another 8 March, International Women’s Day, is on the way. This day commemorates the heroic struggle of women textile workers in New York that inspired the organised struggle of women worldwide. 8 March also reminds us of the memorable struggle and resistance of Iranian women on 8 March 1979 against the compulsory wearing of the hijab after the Islamists seized power and established the anti-woman Islamic Republic. On 8 March we also remember all those women who struggled against the brutal regime and continued their fight at home, in the streets, universities, schools, prisons and elsewhere against the patriarchal system and its subjugation of women and all its anti-women policies.
Women’s struggle on a world scale has been a source of inspiration for us and all those determined to fight and eradicate the oppression and subjugation of women. There is no doubt that we have a tough and tortuous path in front of us. But the situation and conditions of millions of women in Iran and the region and the world is such that we can no longer tolerate such insulting and contemptible treatment.
We are approaching 8 March at a time when women in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria face unimaginable pressure because of imperialist invasions and occupations on the one hand, and the rise of Islamic fundamentalists on the other. The warmongering and brutal occupations by imperialist powers seeking to control the region under different pretexts, and the rise of Islamist forces who are competing with each other in backwardness, has imposed an even harsher situation on women in this region.
The furious face of women in this region is a loud statement that it is no longer possible for women to tolerate this situation and it is no longer acceptable to remain indifferent. A revolutionary and organised struggle to put an end to patriarchal religious fundamentalism and imperialism is a desperate necessity.
The situation for women in Afghanistan has not improved under the country’s occupation by the imperialist powers. In fact, they are now brutally oppressed by two fundamentalist forces, the imperialist-appointed regime and the Taliban opposition.
With the occupation of Iraq and the war in Syria that lead to the seizure of power by the Islamic State (Daesh), women in the region and in particular Yazidi women have been forced to become sex slaves and are traded. Millions of women in Iraq and Syria are deprived of all their basic and human rights and are continuously threatened with rape and violence, whether they are still living in their home villages and towns or forced to become refugees in the mountains under horrible conditions.
We are approaching 8 March this year in a situation where women in the so-called advanced capitalist countries are suffering from oppression. Their bodies and lives are under the control of male supremacy in various ways. Even though women in the Western countries are considered equal under law, discrimination against women in different forms and in a broad way exists and a male chauvinist system is reproduced continuously. Violence against women in forms such as rape and domestic violence is widespread. The right to abortion is limited in various countries. The situation in these countries has given rise to many forms of protest against the degradation of women.
Women’s bodies in these countries are a form of commodity, and in this way they are owned or controlled and traded. Every year thousands of young and teenage girls from the lower and deprived classes of these countries and also from third world countries or Eastern Europe are lured and imported into the sex market by human traffickers, so they can work as sex slaves in the brothels of the modern Western countries or the pornography “industry”. In this way the degradation and brutal oppression of women is ensured, of course in a “modern way”, and billions of dollars go into the pockets of the monarchs of capital.
The situation of women all over the world shows that they are either covered up by a burqa as the property of a man, or their bodies become a commodity to be controlled or traded in the market. In both cases they are downgraded and humiliated, vulnerable to the violence of patriarchy and the male chauvinist system. The system is the same and the oppression of women is the same and there is no way around that. The oppression of women by Islamic fundamentalists such as the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Taliban and Daesh might be performed in its most brutal form, but the liberation of women cannot be achieved within the male supremacist capitalist system because this system itself is the main cause and source of escalation of the degradation of women on a world scale.
As 8 March approaches this year the Islamic Republic of Iran has launched an extensive anti-women campaign. More than just a series of oppressive policies, with its different parts and components this campaign is a systematic assault meant to lower the position of women in society even more, produce a reactionary example for the treatment of women in the region, and allow the regime to compete with other backward and anti-women forces in the region such as Daesh.
The regime’s project for the family and increasing the population, called a plan for “comprehensive population policies” to promote “excellence of the family” and the “Islamic family”, includes restricting access to contraception. This would further limit women’s participation in society. Even women who have managed to enter the social sphere despite mountains of restrictions, limitations and gender discrimination will be forced to go back to their kitchens and bedrooms. This overall plan has led to various laws that cut back all the facilities and budgets for preventing unwanted pregnancy. Further, any move from women to control their own bodies and lives will be considered illegal, punishable by imprisonment and whipping.
Speeches by the military heads of this project seem to indicate that the regime is aiming to prepare itself for a military showdown in the region and ensure a massive military force, i.e., cannon fodder, for possible future developments by increasing the population. In this way the regime wants to strengthen its ability to influence the balance of power in the region. It is looking for a chance to become a player in the games run by the imperialist powers as they form blocs with the aim of controlling the region and the world.
This assault on women is also evident in other projects and bills, such as the “law to protect privacy, modesty and hijab”, and measures such as reducing the number of women employees, encouraging employed women to retire early, restricting education for women, and limiting women’s rights to seek a divorce, open a bank account for their children and travel.
This proposed law and another called “for the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice” not only give power to the men in the family but also allow any regime forces and in fact any backward, anti-woman element to control the behaviour and the kind of clothing and cover of any woman – to police women.
In relation to this, the regime has also organised its thugs, in addition to its security forces, to impose the different aspects of its assault on women.
The series of incidents in which acid was thrown into women’s faces in the last few months, in cities such as Isfahan, Tehran, Shiraz and Tabriz, was part of that assault. Despite the regime’s denial, it was a continuation of its anti-women policies and one of the forms of carrying out its “promotion of virtue and prevention of vice”. It is worth mentioning that the protest of women and men, in Isfahan in particular, and also the people’s angry reaction in opposition to these acid attacks, to some extent exposed the regime’s role and its aims.
The execution of Reyhaneh Jabari last November was also part of the present regime’s assaults on women. The young woman was executed because she had dared to defend herself against a rapist who was an intelligence officer. The regime filed a fake case against Reyhaneh and hung her as a warning that other young women who dare to defend themselves against a rapist or the regime’s thugs will be punished brutally.
Behind the recent savage assault against women the weakness of the regime is evident too. The rebellious and defiant spirit of young people over the years has prevented the Islamic regime from fully carrying out its policies against women. Women’s contempt is a sign of defeat for the regime. The Islamic Republic’s desperation has played an important role in the recent campaign. The regime’s demoralization is an important advantage for the people and especially for women to organise themselves and stand up against this reactionary assault.
The reality is that the war against women the Islamic Republic launched after its seizure of power in 1979 has not ended yet. The current all-rounded assault to intensify the degradation of women is a campaign in that war. Despite all its military and political might, the Islamic Republic has real weaknesses. Its views and thinking belong to long gone centuries. Its existence is tied up with oppression and exploitation. Because of its reactionary nature, it has to rely on force and ruthlessness.
In contrast, women have no political and military power but they are dynamic, motivated and determined to achieve their liberation. Their struggle against oppression is courageous and inspiring. Only the broadening of the organised revolutionary struggle of women and the broad masses of people can achieve victory and put an end to the savage assaults of this anti-people regime. Only through an organised and persistent struggle with a clear perspective of a society without oppression and exploitation can we move ahead in the direction of overthrowing the Islamic Republic and imperialist male supremacy. Without that struggle and that perspective, the patriarchal system will continue to be reproduced.
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The article “Egypt: The murder of Shaimaa al Sabbagh” in AWTWNS150223 referred incorrectly to the two dozen people sentenced to prison 23 February 2015. Their case was not directly related to that of the 269 people sentenced to life in prison in connection with demonstrations in November 2011 (the battles at the Interior Ministry). They were arrested and convicted for defying a law against unauthorized demonstrations in November 2013. An appeals court overturned these verdicts and sentences. They were then convicted and sentenced again on 23 February, this time to five years for those considered leaders, like the well-known blogger Alaa Abd el-Fattah, and three for the rest.