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Mr Judge: What Crime Have I Committed?


By Nahid Keshavar, Feminist School, Iran

Yesterday a lawyer friend called and gave the news of the sentence that I and there other activists of the Campaign for One Million Signatures have received. All 4 of us (Nahid Keshavarz, Jelve Javaheri, Parvin Ardalan, Maryam Hossein-khah) are to serve 6 month imprisonment. Reason is that all 4 of us wrote for web site of Zanestan and Change for equality an act against the national security!

I keep reviewing our writings and try to ascertain which security, have we endangered? Which one of our writings has been against which law? And who have we tried to confuse?

A few days have passed from the second anniversary of the campaign for one million signatures and I keep thinking how many good and valuable lessons and ideas it has provided me in my life, and keep thinking of the past 2 years. Years of hardship and full of news and incidents, my life has taken a different meaning, a different colour. Queuing for bread is not boring and tedious any longer, hairdressers are not a suffocating place to be, queuing in the bank's are not tormenting me anymore. Places are serving a different purpose in my struggle; queues have turned in to a stage for conversation for changing of the laws, reviewing laws which have taken people's lives to a dead end.

Its 10 in the morning and I am already out with my rucksack and petition form ready to explain and collect signatures. Yes Mr Judge my crime is talking with women that your laws have ruined their lives with absolute poverty; my crime is talking with women that makes them think about the discriminatory laws which considers them as Halves, laws which by recognising the multiple marriage reminds them that they are commodity of their husband's.

I walked to a bakery to talk to women queuing up for bread, a 50 years old lady is hesitant to take the leaflets explaining the laws and changes, I asked her why? She replied: I am in dispute with my husband exactly on the same issue, and I am scared he might see the leaflets. I enquired of her predicament and she went on to say: My husband wants me to go and speak to his suitor which by the way is one of my student's, so I have asked him to divorce me and pay my dowry and then get married.

Yes Mr Judge my crime is my anger because of the unfair laws which have turned human's relationship to such a negative and unhealthy state and talking with women who have no way saying SHE does not want these laws. My crime is writing about their dead end lives. My crime and my comrades crime is to strive for equality between women and men, our crime is to make a stand for our rights and insist on peaceful change of the discriminatory laws, hence our imprisonment does not resolve the problem.

Read the writings of the women that you have sent to prison as a punishment, you are sending them to a place to be sacrificed for your unfair laws which you are guarding them. Prison is the training ground to realise and understand the unjust laws made by you, laws which have passed their sell by date, for present times they are inadequate and hence disastrously tragic. Mr Judge Times have changed one can not consider or describe women as subsistence receivers by men, women do not want to be the sexual objects of men, your own daughter would not want these laws. It is not possible to use religious law as a mace to quieten women because the struggles of women in your country has even making Ayatollah's to consider the correctness of these laws.

What is your insistence on intangibility of these laws to change based on?

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