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Iran's Nobel laureate hails approval of better child custody rights

Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi on Tuesday congratulated Iranian women for driving home their demand for improved child custody rights in the "patriarchal" Iranian society, IRNA reported from Tehran.

The arbitrative Expediency Council on Saturday agreed to grant divorced Iranian mothers the right to the custody of their children up to the age of seven.

"This reform of the law is the result of 20 years of resistance of the Iranian women. I congratulate Iranians, especially women, on this victory," he told reporters at a news conference, held at IRNA building in Tehran.

The Expediency Council sided with the parliament after the bill was twice quashed by the supervisory Guardians Council on the ground that it went against the Islamic Sharia law.

Divorced mothers have already the custody right to their daughters up to the age of seven and the new law incorporates the same right to their sons.

On the situation in Iraq, Ebadi said she disapproved of Iraq's military occupation by the US-led coalition. She said "I wish (former Iraqi president) Saddam Hussein had been toppled by Iraqis themselves".

In reply to a question whether she supported any of the political factions in Iran for the forthcoming parliament elections, she said that "the Iranian people are fully aware of the situation and thus there is no need for anyone to give them advice on elections".

She hoped however that the election bill would be ratified and pave the way for free presence of people in the parliament elections.

As for the situation in Palestine, she said that any solution to the Middle East crisis should be based on justice in order to have a sustainable peace in the region.

Ebadi hopes for peace in Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan

Shirin Ebadi rejected military occupation of world countries, saying she hoped peace would be restored in Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan. "Military occupation of a country contradicts all charters of the United Nations," she told reporters at a news conference.

"I believe that the fate any nation must be left to its own people to decide," she said, adding, "The military occupation of a country under the pretext of establishing democracy, and human rights is not right."

The outspoken Iranian lawyer added, "I wished (former Iraqi president) Saddam Hussein had been toppled by the people of that country and not the occupying forces."

Taking an implicit swipe at the US-led occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan by the US-led coalition, Ebadi said, "Freedom and democracy is cannot be presented to anybody on a plate.

"Neither can it be inducted into a country with the force of bullets, tanks and guns, since these are among issues which are achieved through constant struggles of the people."

Turning to domestic issues, she demanded Iranian women be granted the same rights as men, and that religious minorities be given the same blood money as Muslims.

Ebadi also said she believed Iranian women can run for presidency like their male peers.

According to the Nobel Peace laureate, who is planned to receive her award in Oslo, Norway on December 10, 'human rights have improved very much in Iran, compared with 20 years ago'. "We have moved on the right track regarding human rights, but this is not enough," she said.

Ebadi refused to draw a line between human rights in Iran with those in the neighboring countries, stating, "We must not be drawn to not heed human rights only because the humans rights situation in other countries is not favorable."

Iranian women, she said, must be given the same blood money as men. "Women constitute 60 percent of the university students (in Iran). This indicates the education status of women in the Iranian society and the educated women see no difference between themselves and men (in this regard).

"Fortunately, some of the senior clerics have announced that blood money for men and women can be equal and the Iranian women await the day when this inequality will be removed from the law."

Iranian women receive half the blood money as men, as do the religious minorities who have seen a parliament effort to make it equal quashed once by the supervisory Guardians Council.

... Payvand News - 12/2/03 ... --

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