BEIRUT

Middle East

Rouhani: Iranian women not second class citizens

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks in a military parade marking National Army Day in front of the mausoleum of the late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini just outside Tehran, Iran, Friday, April 18, 2014. Ahead of the parade, Rouhani underscored his moderate policies and outreach to the West in a speech. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

TEHRAN: Iran's President Hassan Rouhani admitted Sunday that women in his country still face discrimination and cultural barriers, but he insisted they are not universally treated as second-class citizens.

In a speech marking Women's Day in Iran, Rouhani, seen as a moderate reformer, indicated more had to be done but he said the West did not offer a model that had to be followed.

"I, as the head of the government, confess there are still so many deficiencies with regards to the vindication of women's rights," Rouhani told a conference attended by members of Iran's female elite, in remarks that were warmly applauded.

"Based on the Islamic criteria, we neither consider men as the first sex nor the women as the second sex ... they both have the same human dignity and none is superior," he added.

Iran's civil rights record is regularly criticised by international rights watchdogs and Western governments.

Among the criticisms levelled at the Islamic Republic is a ban on women traveling abroad without official permission. Within the country, many hotels will not allow a woman to check into a room if she is alone.

And under the Shariah law practised in Iran, a woman's evidence is considered to have only half the value of a man's, which Amnesty International says leads to discrimination in divorce proceedings, child custody disputes and inheritance.

Rouhani's remarks are consistent with his promise of more social freedoms, a cornerstone of the campaign that gave him a surprise victory last June in the country's election.

The softly spoken president has the backing of reformists, moderates and some conservatives in the Islamic Republic.

Arguing that it was misguided to think a woman's place should be limited to the home, he questioned why "some people think the presence of women is a threat?", noting that women are the guardians of their own moral standards, not men.

"Is that possible to corner and marginalize the role of half of the society? Women should enjoy equal opportunities, security and social rights," he said.

"We will not accept the culture of sexual discrimination especially for women."

 

Recommended

Advertisement

Comments

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

Alert: If you are facing problems with posting comments, please note that you must verify your email with Disqus prior to posting a comment. follow this link to make sure your account meets the requirements. (http://bit.ly/vDisqus)

comments powered by Disqus
Summary

In a speech marking Women's Day in Iran, Rouhani, seen as a moderate reformer, indicated more had to be done but he said the West did not offer a model that had to be followed.

Iran's civil rights record is regularly criticised by international rights watchdogs and Western governments.

Among the criticisms levelled at the Islamic Republic is a ban on women traveling abroad without official permission. Within the country, many hotels will not allow a woman to check into a room if she is alone.

And under the Shariah law practised in Iran, a woman's evidence is considered to have only half the value of a man's, which Amnesty International says leads to discrimination in divorce proceedings, child custody disputes and inheritance.


Advertisement

FOLLOW THIS ARTICLE

Interested in knowing more about this story?

Click here