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Nobel laureate calls on UN to protect Iranian women


Source: Radio Zamaneh

Iranian Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi has written to the United Nations to protest the Islamic Republic's recent policies toward women. Ebadi claims the Iranian government is trying to limit the active presence of women in society.

Women graduating from Tehran Medical Sciences University - June 2012

The Iranian human rights activist issued a letter on Saturday that urges the United Nations to focus on the new discriminatory policies against women as part of Iran's human rights dossier.

Ebadi refers to the 77 university programs that are now closed to women, particularly in the technical and engineering fields, saying: "In addition to the discriminatory laws imposed on women since the 1979 Revolution, in the new academic year, 36 universities have begun refusing women in 77 programs."

Ebadi cites the example of Arak University, where English language and literature, education, computer science, and chemical, industrial, civil, mechanical and agricultural engineering no longer accept female applicants. In another example, Esfahan University is reportedly not accepting women in political science, accounting, industrial, commercial and public administration, and electronic, civil, mechanical and railroad engineering, as well as translation.

The Iranian Nobel Peace laureate maintains that the new policies have reduced the proportion of women attending universities from 65 percent to 50.

Ebadi writes: "The Iranian government is using various initiatives, laws and policies to restrict women's education and their active presence in society, to return them to the house so that they may stop fighting for their rightful demands and let the government go ahead with its erroneous policies."

The Islamic Republic has been hard at work in the past two years trying to segregate universities on the basis of gender. Ebadi adds that women are also being targeted by the scrapping of birth control initiatives as well as the lack of support for daycare.

Ebadi's letter has also been forwarded to Ahmad Shaheed, the UN special rapporteur for Iran, and Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, the special rapporteur on Violence Against Women and the rapporteur on Education Rights.

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