Will Year 2023 Relieve Women in Iran and Afghanistan from Oppressive Laws?

While disturbing trends prevail in many countries, the law and regulations in such countries do protect women's liberty and freedom and atrocities against women by men are treated as punishable offences.

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File photo of public life in Kabul, Afghanistan [Photo: Wanman uthmaniyyah/ Unsplash]

A holistic view of happenings in the year 2022 gives more cause for concern than hope for the world community. While significant developments have happened in the field of science and technology in the year 2022, peace and harmony in the world still remain a distant dream.  Many people seem to have become pessimistic and think that aspiring for peace in the world is an unrealistic and utopian expectation.

While several unhappy events have taken place in 2022 particularly due to war and conflict, natural as well as manmade calamities, one of the worst things that have been noted is the denial of rights and privileges for women by law in a few Islamic countries, particularly in Iran, Afghanistan and to some extent in Saudi Arabia.

While the growth in civilization over the last several decades has ensured that women are treated as equal to men in all respects by enforcement of the law by most governments, still atrocities against women and the exploitation of women have been reported in an isolated manner in several countries. Offences against women and heaping insults on them in private households and public places and work spots have been reported and particularly sexual assaults against young women are being reported too frequently.  This implies that the section of menfolk continues to think and act as if women are inferior creation of God and their weaker physical attributes in comparison with men justify the women being viewed as weaker and susceptible to exploitation.

While such disturbing trends prevail in many countries, the law and regulations in such countries do protect women’s liberty and freedom and atrocities against women by men are treated as punishable offences.

Scenario in Iran and Afghanistan:

However, what is happening in Iran and Afghanistan is different from the rest of the world, as oppressive acts against women have sanctioned laws in Iran and Afghanistan.

There are several Islamic countries where regulations are enforced by law, where severe dress restrictions exist for women, the marital laws are oppressive   and polygamy is permitted   where women are virtually reduced to the level of pleasure objects for men and restrictions exist for women in places of worship

The recent ban on University education for women in Afghanistan is the worst development that has taken place in living memory. To put it bluntly, any government which put such restrictions on women should be viewed as uncivilized and extremely backward.

Ineffective worldview:

What is particularly distressing is that there has been no effective force in the world, which can safeguard the liberty of women in countries such as Iran and Afghanistan and ensure the dignified status of women in society.

There are, of course, some isolated groups all over the world which make statements against such restrictions on women but they have little impact in countries like Iran and Afghanistan.

U N O should act:

Under the circumstances, one option is that United Nations Organisation should take a firm stand against oppression and denial of rights for women by law in any country and declare such regulations as inhuman and governments in such countries as uncivilized.

At present, United Nations has the concept of maintaining a peacekeeping force to send multinational peacekeeping forces to disturbed countries to protect the victims. We also have institutions like the Red Cross, which go to the aid of victims and sufferers during war and calamities.

In the same way, UNO should examine whether it can have a wing that can be aptly named an “Oppressed Women Protection Force”, which can be sent to such countries where the restrictions imposed on the liberty of women are enforced by law.

Such Women Protection Force may be authorized by the UNO to enter such countries, where government restrict women’s liberty by law and carry out a sustained campaign for women’s liberty in the region.  This women’s Protection Force can considerably strengthen the women’s movement in these countries considerably. Of course, this protection force will be an unarmed body and would be a moral force that cannot be ignored by the offending governments. This force would also represent the voice of the civilized community and bring enormous pressure on the offending governments to mend their ways.

This suggestion for a Women’s Protection Force may sound whimsical, vague and impractical in the present scenario in world.

However, this idea does deserve to be developed, debated and fine-tuned in a way that it can become a reality.

It should be kept in mind that in the past such “impractical ideas” have gained acceptance due to the sustained efforts of right-thinking individuals and positive campaigners.

Sri Lanka Guardian

The Sri Lanka Guardian is an online web portal founded in August 2007 by a group of concerned Sri Lankan citizens including journalists, activists, academics and retired civil servants. We are independent and non-profit. Email: editor@slguardian.org

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