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Iran’s women fight for rights 30 years after revolution
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  Article Date:
February 09
, 2008 



TEHERAN - Women marched alongside men in the protests that helped topple Iran’s monarchy in 1979’s Islamic revolution, and three decades later are continuing to struggle for more rights.

In a downtown Teheran art gallery, Jinoos Taghizadeh displays her latest creation: 3D prints of Iranian newspapers from 1979 superimposed on neo-classic paintings of the French revolution.

The exhibition-‘Scissors, Paper, Rock’-also features a video with a woman singing a lullaby of revolutionary songs. This is controversial in a country where performances by solo female vocalists are banned, even on tape.

‘I have to deal with limitations in my country and the way the outside world looks at me as an eastern female artist,’ she told AFP.

‘I’d like to talk about my life but I don’t want to fit into the exotic frame that the West wants to see me in,’ said Taghizadeh, 37, worried over Western cliches about ‘oppressed eastern woman’.

The Islamic republic still struggles to keep women properly covered by clamping down on defiant dressers in tight coats, with their hair tumbling out from under flimsy headscarves.

But ironically, the ubiquitous head-to-toe chador, the scarves and long coats that more liberal Western eyes view as oppressive for women have actually helped them achieve a greater presence in public life.

‘The Islamic revolution brought women from different walks of life out of their domestic confines,’ said Sogol Zand, a researcher in gender and development.

‘The Islamisation of the country convinced many traditional and religious families to ease up on the visibility of their daughters in the public domain, at university or work,’ she added.

Over the past years, Iranian women have accounted for more than 60 percent of university entrants, with many chasing professions like teaching, medicine and engineering. There are female taxi drivers and even managers of male athletes.

But women, who can be prevented from working by their husbands, account for only about 15 percent of the workforce and have only a token presence in top management and politics despite having had the vote since 1963.

And they still suffer from a whole raft of inequalities, much stemming from the Islamic legal concept that a woman is worth only half of what a man is.

For example, under inheritance law, daughters received only half of what their brothers do.

A man can divorce his wife at will, but a woman must prove her husband to be guilty of misconduct. Children under seven stay with their mothers after divorce, but the fat

Source: AFP