I can’t get this woman’s cry for help out of my head:
Though the authorities want coverage internally to scare women – they don’t want the story broadcast abroad.
The BBC’s cameraman was detained when he tried to film the police at work and the government denied us permission to go on patrol with the police.
“Really we don’t have any security,” complains Shabam’s friend Leyla.
“Since we came out this morning many people we met have continuously warned us to be careful about our headscarves and to wear them further forward because they are arresting women who are dressed like this,” she says.
Boutique owners are furious. Some shops have been sealed – others warned not to sell tight revealing clothing.
One shopkeeper selling evening dresses told us the moral police had ordered him to saw off the breasts of his mannequins because they were too revealing.
He said he wasn’t the only shop to receive this strange instruction.
The repression is an annual rite, but this year it’s worse than ever. Women’s activists are blowing the whistle on the mullahs’ attempts to lay blame at America’s feet:
Activists say that while world attention has focused on the West’s standoff with Iran over its nuclear program, the abuses of women’s rights have intensified, using fear of a U.S. attack as a pretext.
Over the past 10 months, security forces have “become more and more aggressive even as women’s actions have become more peaceful and tame,” said Jila Baniyaghoub, an activist who has also spent time in jail.
“By tightening the noose on us, they are trying to warn us that they will not tolerate even the mildest criticism,” she said.
Iranian authorities are reluctant to answer specific questions about the treatment of women. Several officials and lawmakers approached by the AP to talk about the issue refused to be interviewed.
But Intelligence Minister Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei recently pointed a finger at women activists when he claimed that “the enemy’s new strategy is to finance and organize various groups under the cover of women’s or student movements.”
The aim, he told a state news agency, is to depict the government as incompetent and to turn people against it.
The Iranian government is doing a plenty good job of that on its own:
Three women who have been stopped gave accounts of their run-ins with the police. All three refused to give their last names because they feared they could be identified by the police and punished.
Nazanain, 28, a reporter who thought she had dressed more modestly than usual, said she had been stopped in Vanak Square in Tehran and told her coat was tight and showed her body shape.
“I just joked with them and tried to stay calm but they told me to sit so that they could see how far my pants would pull up in a sitting position,” she said.
Nazanin was told by the police that they were trying to help her so that she would not look awkward and attract the attention of men.
She received a warning for her large sunglasses, her coat, her eyeliner and her socks, which they said should be longer. She was allowed to go after she signed a letter saying she would not appear in public like that again.
But a friend, Niloofar, who responded angrily to the police when she was told to fix her head scarf, was kept in a bus for five hours.
“They want to intimidate us,” said Somayeh, 31, who was crying after she was stopped at the Mirdamad subway station. She was asked to call home and get her national ID number for the letter she was asked to sign.
A photographer who accompanied a police team said many women reacted angrily to the warnings.
The traffic police have also stopped women drivers – dragging them out of their cars to check their clothes, newspapers reported.
More on the struggle inside Iran here.
So where is the U.N.? Bashing Israel instead, of course:
In its latest report concerning the worldwide state of women’s rights, the United Nations reached only one conclusion against a nation: the “occupation of Palestine” by Israel is wrong.
What does that have to do with women’s rights? Good question. The UN’s Commission on the Status of Women resolution had very little to do with women’s rights, if anything at all.
The resolution, which condemned Israel for the injustices “the occupation of Palestine imposes on Palestinian women,” passed almost unanimously—by a vote of 40 to 2. It doesn’t take much to see under the surface of such rhetoric. Anne Bayefsky wrote, “Only the United States and Canada confronted the move for what it was: the hijacking of yet another UN body to spin world opinion against Israel and toward the Palestinian Authority” (National Review Online, March 19)…
…For a specifically commissioned group to target Israel while overlooking reports of harsh governmental crackdowns against women in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Sudan is preposterous. In Israel, women are not beaten or legally discriminated against for being raped, as they are in surrounding nations. The UN’s Commission on the Status of Women bilked its responsibility to promote women’s rights in exchange for an opportunity to bash Israel.
The deprived women of the world could lodge a complaint, if they were allowed freedom of speech.
And where is our State Department? Getting ready to sit down at the negotiating table with Iran.
The woman in the video posted above refused to be dragged off the street without a fight. Her brave and defiant cry is now on YouTube for all the world to see and hear. Will the world act–or will we continue to suffer from global Kitty Genovese syndrome?