A thief with a gun was threatening…
A Cartoon Story from Iran
According to Elaine Sciolino, reporter for the New York Times and author of Persian Mirrors, The Elusive Face of Iran (Free Press, 2005) an Iranian woman’s lot is not a happy one, leading many to commit suicide; an estimated 2,500 per year in the capital Tehran alone.
Despite their gains, (since the revolution) women do not serve as judges or religious leaders. Adultery is still punishable by stoning to death. Polygamy is legal. In a divorce, fathers get custody of sons over the age of two and daughters over the age of seven. A girl can be tried for a crime as an adult at the age of nine, a boy at fifteen … girls are allowed to marry at the age of nine … Women inherit only half of what men do. Men can divorce their wives at will, but women must prove (to an all male court) that their spouses are insane, impotent, violent, or unable to support a family …
Married women cannot get a passport or leave the country without the permission of their husbands. Rape is more often than not blamed on the woman. A woman’s testimony in court has half the weight of a man. Women can be arrested for jogging or bicycling or swimming in sexually integrated places, and for exposing their heads and necks …
Elaine Sciolino (p. 115)
And the list goes on.
Brave women, usually the daughters of respected religious leaders or senior government officials, will sometime dare to challenge the status quo.
The daughter of former President Rafsanjani was one of these women. To highlight one of the inequities of Islamic Law she published … wait for it … a cartoon in an Iranian women's magazine she founded.
The publication of this cartoon led to her being accused of ridiculing one of the principles of Islam that a woman, in dollars and cents, is only worth half as much as a man. The magazine was shut down. Being the daughter of a former President, nothing else was done to her. Another person would probably not have been so lucky.
Women and men in Iran risk their lives to ridicule tyranny knowing that ridicule is the most effective weapon in their arsenal. In Canada, in comfort and safe from harm, we seek to neuter this effective weapon against tyranny for fear of offending.
A brave new world this isn't.
The cartoon depicts a husband appealing to a robber to shoot his wife instead of him because under Islamic law the compensation the thief would have to pay to the family would be half of what he would have to pay if he shot him.
Bernard Payeur, February 22, 2006