Peter Tatchell writes in The Guardian's Comment is Free,
Last Sunday, a group of courageous women's rights activists staged a vigil outside the Engelab Court in Tehran. They held banners demanding: "We have the right to hold peaceful protests".
These gentle, unthreatening women - armed only with words, ideals and paper placards - were violently attacked by the police, on the orders of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime.
One woman had her head battered against the side of a police bus, shattering her teeth. The BBC correspondent in Tehran, Frances Harrison, says police and plainclothes security men arrested at least 32 women, including nearly all the leaders of Iran's women's movement. They were shoved into curtained buses and driven away. Unbowed, they are now on hunger strike in Evin prison, which is notorious for torture and deaths in custody. Their families and friends have begun a vigil outside the jail.
Tatchell asks why there have been no protests from Western feminist movements and the Left, the traditional defender of women's right.
The liberal western media - including The Guardian - has mostly failed to report these women's protests and their bloody suppression. The left, too, ignores the heroic struggle of the women of Iran. Misogyny and police brutality are not okay in Britain, but apparently acceptable in Tehran. Why the double standards?
Feminist movement Women4Peace thinks its all the fault of the Shah of Iran and US imperialism.
The Sydney Morning Herald uses the day to fret about a 1.7% increase in the gender pay gap
The Age fret about the lack of time mothers spend with their children (no connection with above of course)
Anyway, back in the real world, last week in Saudi Arabia, a 19 year-old girl was given 90 lashes for being seen in public with a man who was not a relative. She was also gang-raped 14 times.
No comment. No marches.
Amnesty International warned that
Thousands of girls and women have been raped in Darfur. A U.N. Commission of Inquiry found that these abuses amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. However, authorities in Sudan have refused to comply with ICC requests or otherwise allow the Court to conduct investigations in Darfur.
Not a peep.
Human Rights Watch has reported that men
in Sierra Leone, Kosovo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, and Rwanda, have raped women as a weapon of war with near complete impunity. Men in Pakistan, South Africa, Peru, Russia, and Uzbekistan beat women in the home at astounding rates, while these governments alternatively refuse to intervene to protect women and punish their batterers or do so haphazardly and in ways that make women feel culpable for the violence. As a direct result of inequalities found in their countries of origin, women from Ukraine, Moldova, Nigeria, the Dominican Republic, Burma, and Thailand are bought and sold, trafficked to work in forced prostitution.
Honour killings are on the rise in their traditional homes of
Egypt, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, the Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, Yemen, and other Mediterranean and Gulf countries
but are now spreading to
France, Germany and the United Kingdom within migrant communities.
The reality of the Women's Movement in 2007 is that the twin taboos of cultural sensitivity and multiculturalism have triumphed over the rights of women to be treated equally. Religious and racial issues are evidently now more important to the Left, the traditional supports of the women's movement.
Paternalist societies are on the rise everywhere and with mass immigration are spreading to societies that have only recently achieved equality for women. Women have been treated equally to men for approximately fifty years in Man's entire history on this planet. I fear these last fifty years could prove to be as good as it gets for women.