Just as one thought the United Nations had reached the nadir of ineptitude by failing to stop rogue states from acting contrary to the collective interests of humanity, the international body lowers the bar yet another notch. On April 28, members of the UN’s Economic and Social Council elected—by virtue of their failure to object—Iran to the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) to serve a four-year term, starting next January. An organization “dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women,” the CSW impugns its credibility by giving membership to Iran—a country where women are valued not as human beings but chattel.
Fundamentalist Iran, despite unanimous approval by UN states in 1948 of the equality of all human life in its Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), led the charge 33 years later to deny the world’s non-Muslim population such equality. Islamic fundamentalism gives no value to the life of a non-believer. And, even among believers, it gives far less value to the life of females than males. This was evidenced by one of the first acts undertaken by fundamentalists after coming to power in 1979: Women were removed from judgeships out of the belief they lacked the mental capacity to render legal decisions based on Islamic law.
In 1981, fundamentalist leaders sought to disrupt the UDHR applecart. They argued that the declaration was “a secular understanding of the Judeo-Christian tradition” and, as such, could not be honored by Muslims without violating Islamic law. Following Iran’s lead, the 57 Muslim member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference supported a new definition of human rights—one in accordance with Islam’s Shari’a law—as proferred by the 1990 Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam (CDHRI). UDHR and CDHRI extend human rights coverage to vastly different size groups. Human rights under UDHR are all-inclusive—extending to 100% of the world’s population; human rights under CDHRI extend only to male Muslims—excluding non-believers and Muslim women—thus covering roughly 8% percent of the world’s population.
The hypocrisy of Iran serving on the CSW is best described by the director of UN Watch who noted, “Putting fundamentalist Iran in charge of a women’s rights commission is like putting a pyromaniac as chief of the fire department. It’s an outrage and completely unacceptable.”
Such hypocrisy is further evidenced by the fundamentalist’s logic that, while Muslim women lacked the mental capacity to be judges, young Muslim girls possessed the mental capacity to enter into marriage without parental consent—at the tender age of nine! (International protests against Iran resulted in the age later being raised to 13, but girls can still marry at nine with parental consent.) Iran’s judiciary chief between 1989-1999, Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, made clear the fundamentalist’s view of a woman’s role in society, stating to a husband during a court proceeding. “Your wife, who is your possession, is, in fact, your slave.”
In Iran, the testimony of two women equals that of one man. The payment of “blood money”—funds paid to the family of a murder victim—is twice as much for male victims as for females. A single woman found in mixed company is subject to a virginity test. A woman found to have engaged in pre-marital sex can be beaten or executed. Under Shari’a law, stoning is a suitable execution. A caveat of that law provides that , should a stoning victim escape, he or she must be freed. But, even here women are at a disadvantage as males are only buried to their waist during stonings, while women are buried to their necks. And, any woman seeking to change such equalities in Iran can be charged with conspiracy to overthrow the government.
This inequality between Muslim men and women, in which the former’s value is twice that of the latter, stems from the words of the Prophet Muhammad as told to him by Allah, via the Archangel Gabriel, and recorded in the Koran. A translation of the relevant comment indicates that Allah preferred men to women, which is why women were given only “half a brain.” Therefore, Muhammad ordered followers not to educate women but to confine them to the home.
Additionally, an important book in Islamic jurisprudence provides a “hadith” (quote) from Muhammad that roughly states: “What really disrupts a man’s power of concentration in prayer is seeing a donkey, a black dog or a woman.” (Muhammad explained a black dog represented Satan.) Muhammad’s comments about the fairer sex were often extremely demeaning, criticizing a woman’s ability to comprehend, to exercise free will and her value as a human being. It is with this same mindset Iran’s Islamic fundamentalists continue to view women today.
As Iran—a country run by Islamic fundamentalists who hold little respect for women—takes its seat on the UN’s CSW next year, it should give us pause to wonder whether the lunatics indeed have taken over the asylum.