Iran: Updates as of November 11, 2010

This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

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Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani
Back in 2006, this 43-year-old mother of two was first arrested on charges of adultery and was later charged as an accomplice in the murder of her husband. Iran’s Islamic laws suggest death by stoning for committing adultery and execution by hanging for murder.
An international public outcry against stoning as barbaric seemed to have forced the Iranian government to reconsider their handling of the case. However new reports tell of the government pursuing the case by focusing on the charges of murder. Official sources state that the case is still in the investigation phase and no final decision has yet been made by authorities.
Are there cracks in the wall? The conservative Iranian newspaper Alef has recently run an article critical of the judge handling this case accusing him of having inadequate knowledge of sharia law with its provisions for forgiveness and its requirement of four witnesses. The article also apparently criticized the authorities over the case becoming such an issue in the West. As reported in The Australian: Alef is controlled by Ahmad Tavakkoli, a former minister who is a cousin of Ali Larijani, the Parliament’s Speaker, and Sadegh Larijani, the head of the judiciary. It supports Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, but has been critical of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Until now Ms Ashtiani’s sentence has scarcely been mentioned in Iran’s state-controlled media. Considering the connections between this newspaper and those high in the government, it seems that there may not be a consensus over dealing with this issue.
UN Women
Starting in January 2011, the new United Nations body called The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women or UN Women comes into operation. This entity seeks to promote the needs of women and girls internationally by eliminating discrimination, empowering women and promoting gender equality. In an odd twist, recent elections for this body have seen several countries well noted for their lacks of women’s rights come forward as candidates.
Saudi Arabia, Libya and Congo won seats on the board. These wins are ironic in light of the fact that women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia and require a male relative to take legal responsibility for them; in Libya, women are arbitrarily detained for an indefinite period, according to Human Rights Watch; and in Congo, rape has been used as way to prosecute civil war.
Iran with its own track record was however rebuffed in its bid for a seat. As the Toronto Star pointed out:
In Iran, women have been barred from running for the presidency. They can be flogged for appearing in public without head scarves and stoned to death for adultery. They have no independent right to education after marriage or to child custody. In court, their testimony is worth half that of a man. Advocates of women’s rights are persecuted.
Iran’s leaders are forever trying to get elected to UN rights panels, where they try to legitimize the indefensible. Tehran has been kept off the UN Human Rights Council, but it did win a spot in April on yet another UN agency, the Commission on the Status of Women. That means Tehran’s mullahs still have a forum in which to express their medieval views.
Click HERE to read more from William Belle 
The Australian: Conservative paper challenges stoning – Nov 9/2010
Toronto Star: editorial – Nov 11/2010
Wikipedia: UN Women
The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, also known as UN Women is a United Nations entity working for the empowerment of women and girls.
UN Women will become operational by January 2011.
On 2 July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly voted unanimously to "accelerate progress in meeting the needs of women and girls worldwide." The body is a result of many years of negotiations between UN member states and women’s rights advocates. The body is a part of the UN’s reform agenda seeking to bring together "resources and mandates for greater impact." The body’s intention is to "accelerate progress in meeting the needs of women and girls worldwide."
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced at the founding of the movement that he is "grateful to Member States for having taken this major step forward for the world’s women and girls. UN Women will significantly boost UN efforts to promote gender equality, expand opportunity, and tackle discrimination around the globe."
On September 14, 2010, it was announced that former President of Chile Michelle Bachelet was appointed as head of UN Women.[3] Various countries supported the creation of the body and welcomes Bachelet as chief.[4] During General Debate at the opening of the 65th General Assembly of the United Nations, world leaders commended the creation of the body and its intention to "empower women," as well as welcoming Bachelet’s position as the inaugural head.
UN Women is empowered to:
·         To support inter-governmental bodies, such as the Commission on the Status of Women, in their formulation of policies, global standards and norms.
·         To help UN member states implement the above standards, standing ready to provide suitable technical and financial support to those countries that request it and to forge effective partnerships with civil society.
·         To enable member states to hold the UN system accountable for its own commitments on gender equality, including regular monitoring of system-wide progress.
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