In a very informative and impressing talk, Prof. Ziba Mir Hosseini, a distinguished Iranian Anthropologist and one of my great mentors, elaborated on her paper "Broken Taboos in Post-Election Iran"
In a talk hosted by the distinguished Egyptian feminist think tank Women and Memory Forum www.wmf.org.eg , Ziba shared with us her analysis on the Green movement and the change happening currently in the
. She started with a very catchy idea, the Green versus the Black. by Green she meant the reformist, democratic, inclusive and feminist voices of the Iranian opposition versus the Black rigid, dogmatic and sexist voices of the official so called Islamic regime. The Green movement made remarkable changes, the first is the unification of the feminist movement under one platform, fighting for women rights. the sharp polarization between the faith based feminists and secular feminists which was a persistent feature of the Iranian feminist movement since 1979 ended under the severe misogynist attacks of the Iranian regime. Ziba said: " in April 2009, 42 women’s groups and 700 individuals, including both secular feminists and religious women from the reformist parties, came together to form a coalition called the Women’s Convergence. Without supporting any individual candidate, the coalition posed pointed questions to the field". the convergence demanded the ratification of the international women rights bill Convention of Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women CEDAW and revision of discriminatory articles 19, 20, 21 and 115 of the constitution. Iran
The second landmark was infringing the concept of the so called Islamic republic which protect the honor of its citizens. The black atrocity of the protester Taraneh Mousavi, who was detained, reportedly raped and murdered in prison, and her body burned and discarded, discarded the credibility of the regime, who have been forcing rigid sexual and moral code of conduct on its citizens. The obligatory Hijab was taken off to intimidate the Green protesters. Taraneh was an alarm and example to the destiny of any outspoken women who dare to challenge the regime. The sexual assaults was not directed to women, men were victims as well " One of Karroubi’s witnesses, a male rape victim, refers to his decision to disclose what happened to him as “committing social suicide,” which speaks to the power of the taboo -- but then, once a taboo is broken, it loses its power". In addition to that the media apparatus of the regime spread a photo of the student leader Majid Tavakoli wearing traditional Hijab chador, to humiliate him, however a campaign was launched on the social network Facebook, calling men to post their photos wearing Hijab in solidarity with Majid. These incidents reminded me with the usage of sexual assaults as a tool against dissidents, it was used in
in the referendum day in May 2005. Egypt
The third novelty was the role of women in the Green movement. It started with the appearance of Zahra Rahnavard at the side of -- and even holding hands with -- her husband, the candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi and the other Iranian women, that the analysts said that the Green movement is feminine, it is based on the ethics of care offered by women. It is note worthy to say that women have been in the public sphere, however they were always subordinate or second level officials entrenching the regime discourse.
Finally, the passion and love were released and taken publicly, different wives on political prisoners wrote love letters to their husbands expressing their pain and loss. Women sexuality and passion were finally acceptable and not stigmatized. And this is a huge change in a Middle Eastern Muslim society, where love is confined in bedrooms.
Women are showing that they are capable of bearing the pain and giving birth to beauty and justice. The struggle of Iranian women is, was and will shape the history of women endeavor in the
Middle East. They are breaking taboos, confronting with fundamentalism and seeking equality.