Meydaan Women’s Manifesto on the Occasion of its Second Anniversary
The website for Meydaan Women’s Group [field/forum] was established just two years ago after several weeks’ hard work to save Ashraf Kalhori’s life. On July 26th 2006, Ashraf Kalhori was sentenced to death by stoning in Evin prison. Women’s website reflected and published the many activities organized by a group of people which did not have a particular name at the time but opposed Ashraf Kalhori’s sentence. Ideas thus crystallized and a number of us, in cooperation with the Volunteer Lawyers Network, and a group of women activists from women’s transnational movement founded the ‘anti-stoning law’ campaign to abolish stoning altogether.
While this campaign was under way, some other women activists had been working for over a year to secure the right of entry to sports stadiums to watch games, and another group -especially in Kermanshah & Mashad- were campaigning to secure the right to Iranian nationality through mothers. This was particularly related to the entitlement of children born from Iranian mothers married to either Afghan or Iraqi men. From the winter of 2006 Meydaan’s website became a forum for women to project their voice, and an online base to host and cover news and reports on women’s issues including developments in creating the Iranian Women’s Charter.
Notwithstanding the differences between groups and individuals, the varieties and forms of activism, and the subject range addressed and discussed on Meydaan’s website, further discussed in the section ‘About US’ below, our most challenging task has been facing non-democratic anti-women, and patriarchal systems. As will be illustrated in the following paragraphs these challenges have persevered during the two years of Meydaan’s life, and have increasingly assumed a more clear and transparent stance. Meydaan has made significant advances in the past two years. The early structuring and bringing together a number of campaigns and protests via the website have now evolved into a fluid network of diverse individuals and groups pursuing varying objectives each with specific expertise and know-how. Whilst the first year of Women’s activities at Meydaan has yielded considerable successes including saving the lives of four women and one man sentenced to stoning; preventing the stoning of three additional women; raising and addressing the issue of stoning and initiating a discussion in the media, and thus breaking related social taboos; effecting change, however minor, in the legislation of the Islamic Punishment Act for stoning; keeping alive the campaign for women’s unfettered access and entry into sports stadiums, based on protests against the separation of sexes in public places, and through distributing pamphlets amongst the public at large as well as the crowds at the start of national football games in Tehran; and organizing film screenings informing the public, and transferring the discussion of this issue to the regional and international spheres, and organizations such as the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and the International Federation of Football (FIFA).
Despite these diverse activities, the organizers at Women’s Meydaan have realized that the political, social, economic and cultural factors determining Iranian women's destiny are so complicated that concentrating on and following through the range of such complex range of issues with just a few specific methodologies would be at the cost of overlooking many of the ever increasing important problems which arise on a daily basis. One such concern has involved parliamentary bills and legislations.
Women activists at Meydaan could no longer ignore many of the discriminatory parliamentary bills against women. In our view, bills such as "Supporting the Family” were designed mainly to embolden the patriarchal family system. Others have included the improvement and execution of women’s social safety and security program, which has meant insecurity for women in public places and streets. Another bill has sought the illegal implementation of gender quotas against women’s admission into universities, and more recently, a bill concerning the Islamic Punishment Law has distressed women at Meydaan. As an active feminist group we have not been able to simply pass such problems by. Simultaneously, the constant stream of new members joining Meydaan has brought with them new sensibilities, trajectories, and perspectives, offering new challenges. These reasons have compelled Women at Meydaan to respond to the emerging problems more widely. Not only Meydaan has endeavored to establish special committees to protest against the ”Supporting the Family” and the “Improvement of Women’s Social Safety Program” bills, gendered education rationing, and the “Islamic Punishment” bill —including covering the emerging related news and viewpoints—, but it has also promoted and started grassroots activisms across Iran. Sending more than 2000 cards saying "No! to the bill of Supporting the Family" to parliamentary members by Meydaan’s networks in Tehran, Karaj, Isfahan, Yazd, Semnan, Ahwaz, Rasht, Hamedan, etc., is just one example. Indeed, this has been an effective tool in halting the ratification process of this bill in parliament.
The students’ branch of women activists has had many achievements. In order to protest against the gender quotas in higher education, the students distributed brochures in universities to inform their peers. They further proposed the organization of ‘students' protest’ on International Women’s Day. Simultaneously, female students have protested against the violation of their rights as a result of the quotas. The Volunteer Lawyers Network has helped them by pursuing the case in the Administrative Justice Bureau. At present, the brochures for the "Referendum on the Islamic Punishment Bill" are being distributed.
At the outset of the second anniversary, Meydaan Women’s Group decided to publish its own analysis of the women’s situation in Iran. The problems facing the women’s movement, and the discourse and approach born out of it are included in this analysis. In this way, Meydaan Women’s Group declares its stance; it simultaneously offers a forum and tool for dialogue amongst women and those other groups whose concerns are related to both women’s movement and other social campaigns. As such we sincerely request that the readers of this manifesto to provide reflections and comments on our work so that we may develop and strengthen this discourse.
Current women’s issues in Iran
Before answering the question of ‘What are the most important problems for women in Iran’, we should first determine what we mean by ‘women’. Do we mean middle class women living in cities or do we point to women of poor families? Do we mean the majority of Fars [Persian speaking] Shi'a women , or do we also point to the minority Sunni Baluch women who have no voice in their society? Are we talking about housewives or working women? The most salient question of all would be who will determine and frame the most important issues for women? What is her/his social background? To which class does she/he belong? What is her/his degree of education? Is the determiner a woman or a man? Meydaan Women’s Group believes that the first step in answering these questions involves emphasizing the following facts:
- The consideration of the limitations in knowledge and facilities available to women activists who have to face and react to all problems facing Iranian women .
- Knowing that ‘Who We Are’ influences all of our responses.
- Knowing the fact that what we perceive as women’s issues does not necessarily correspond to all women’s problems.
Meydaan aims to answer the above concerns as much as conceivably possible.
Meydaan Women’s Group believes that presently the most important problems facing Iranian women are evident in two general trends. One is the result of government policies; the other is caused by traditions and customs. We have had to ignore some issues in order to reach this categorization, for there are many issues emanating both from the traditional and governmental trends. The relationship between these two trends is reciprocal, having both a strengthening and a reproductive effect on each other.
A- Problems caused by governmental policies:
There are the problems that affect women's lives through laws, policies, and official decisions. The most important issues in this regard are:
1- Governmental policies aimed at keeping women at home: decreasing working hours for women; making women's jobs part-time; limiting the recruitment of women in governmental sectors; increasing the length of maternity leave; privatization of kindergartens; imposing gender quotas on universities; separation of boys and girls throughout their education from primary school until university; making changes in textbooks in order to emphasize sexual clichés and stereotypes; separating the sexes in public places in order to deprive women of access to many public facilities and making mixed places insecure for them; prohibiting the flow of information about the sexes; and promoting sexual clichés through mass media and governmental administrations.
2- The legal system ruling women's lives: this legal system comprises of the laws ruling a patriarchal family. In this family, the man is in charge, and due to his financial management of the family, he has absolute power in decision-making, including everything related to his wife and children. Making decisions on the wife's place of residence, her job outside the house, the frequency and style of sexual relationships, the number of children and the time of pregnancy, guardianship of the children, the right to end the marriage (divorce), and getting custody of the children above age 7 are the legal rights given to men. In such a system, men are the breadwinners of the family, and in the majority of cases their share of the inheritance is two times more than that of women’s. The nationality of the wife and children absolutely depend on the man's nationality. According to this legal system, as long as the man is financially capable, he can have four permanent spouses and an unlimited number of temporary spouses. In addition, ‘Punishment Law’ supports the patriarchal model of the family and determines strict punishments for sexual relationships taking place outside of marriage. These punishments are supposed to be equal for both men and women, but in reality they mostly affect women. In such a legal system based on the model of the patriarchal family, the father is the owner of his children's lives. Thus, the father has the right to kill them and escape the punishments that other killers must face. In this system, the father is actually ruling every aspect of his daughter's life before her marriage. The authorization of the daughter's marriage is also in his hands. After marriage, it is the husband who assumes the position of authority over his wife. The underestimation of the importance of women in the legal system is also apparent in laws that claim that the testimony of two female witnesses is equal to the testimony of one man. Moreover, in this very system women are not allowed to be nominated for and become the president of the country.
3- Policies controlling sexuality and the female body: these include the prevalence of violent methods for determining the clothing and make-up of women. These policies promote a certain sexual code of behavior based on women being only sexual objects and men playing the zealous role. In this way, the official policies give men the right to control women’s behavior and appearance with the justification of defending chastity. An increase in cases of honor killing in certain areas of Iran is only one of the results of these policies. Other manifestations of these policies are found in the execution of strict punishments like stoning and whipping for women who engage in sexual relationships outside of marriage, enabling men the authority to determine the details and fate of their sexual relationships; ignoring the sexual desires of women; and the increasing helplessness of women to end their marriage due to their lack of right to divorce. These policies working against women’s rights are founded upon the idea that the only plausible situation in which women are accepted is within the confines of marriage. Moreover, these policies encourage polygamy for men and lend credibility to Seegheh [temporary marriage]. These policies raise women as obedient housewives and at the same time legalize the sexual abuse of women. The result of this kind of thinking —and its prevalence in society-- is paradoxical, historically shaping women’s activities until present day.
4- State policies and laws which feminize poverty, exacerbate class divisions, and result in direct control over women’s property: these include both unequal salaries for men and women holding the same position, and the emphasis on motherhood and wifehood as the main responsibilities for women. Since there are no laws that officially recognize housewifery as a job with an income, women are economically dependent on men. In other respects, these laws eliminate women from the job market and prioritize men’s employment and job promotion. In addition, the laws on inheritance increase men's economic power, and the laws on alimony and dowry give men the right to decide on their payment. These legal rights enable men to have the power to exert economic violence and control over women's property. Moreover, because there is no suitable social security system for women who are responsible for the financial management of their families, this economic system gradually weakens women.
B- Problems emanating from traditions and customs:
Customs are common social laws and values ruling women's daily lives. Cultural, religious and traditional factors oblige women to obey these customs. Thus far, the state has not made these customs obligatory; however, women cannot truly resist them. Customs have caused some of the most significant problems, such as:
1- Violence in the home, society and at work, including all kinds of violence like humiliation and verbal threats, physical violence and even rape (including incestuous adultery and rape). These kinds of violence lead to fear and insecurity among women, even among those who have not yet experienced violence.
2- Sub-cultures which control the sexuality and body of women are on the rise. They are manifested in honor killings, obligatory marriages, and some customs like compulsory Hijab [forms of Islamic dress code] on girls and women in the family. These sub-cultures reinforce the object-like status and sexual depiction of women, and place pressure on middleclass women to embody the roles that sustain that ideal. The rising number of women undergoing beauty surgery is only one of the outcomes of the predominance of this portrayal.
3- Economic control: There are many Iranian traditions which legalize men's control over women's property. Giving men the authority to manage financial assets is even approved and endorsed by educated and employed women. This authority enables men to use violence and financial deprivation as tools to control women.
4- The humiliation, undermining and underestimation of women from religious, sectarian and racial minorities: This is a result of a chauvinistically oriented racial culture, accompanied by state policies that marginalize minorities. The discrimination felt by women within these groups is much more than that of others.
5- The gendered division of work within the family: It clearly defines what duties are inevitable for women. In this way, women have no choice but to do the housework, obey men and satisfy their needs.
We, the members of the Meydaan Women’s Group, believe that the cases mentioned above are the most important problems facing Iranian women. In the following sections, we attempt to answer these pivotal questions: Do the current discourses of the Iranian women’s movement adequately define and interpret these problems? Can they offer suitable strategies to cope with these problems?
The analysis of active discourses in the Iranian women’s movement
We do not seek to engage in endless discussions on what qualifies as a movement, what we mean by active forces, and why we have decided to use a certain categorization. What we endeavor to do is analyze different discourses circulating within the Iranian women’s movement, highlighting their strategies and interactions, and identifying the deficiencies in each. After hours of discussion and a handful of experiences of the Iranian women’s movement, we have found that these actions and analyses are pivotal.
It appears that there are several dominant discourses within the Iranian women’s movement. Naturally, the effects and ranges of these discussions are varied; at present our stream of discussion covers the main points. The discourse belonging to the Meydaan Group will be presented in other following sections.
1-The call for legal gender equalization: This discourse has a long, complicated history. For decades, women have fought for their legal rights (such as the marriage and other civil laws), and have experienced different phases in their struggle in the past century. The fight for legal rights is mostly promoted by the One Million Signatures Campaign currently, which calls for a change in discriminatory laws. This discourse includes discussions on the legal equalization of men and women regarding laws concerning the family, except for the polygamy law whose abolishment has been requested. Punitive laws such as blood money, testimony, and the age of punitive responsibility are also included in this discourse. There are different views on these issues among active members of the Campaign, but the sole objective relating to them all is the call for abolishing discrimination against women in all laws. This call for change points to the international responsibilities of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Such a discourse was based on the results achieved by lawyers and socio-political elites a decade before the Islamic Revolution. Presently, the active members of the One Million Signatures Campaign look at this objective as an effective tool in communicating with women who have different social backgrounds. They also believe that this campaign is a way to make public women’s demands for change.
Despite the relative success of the One Million Signatures Campaign in mobilizing different forces to at least agree on its axis of shared ideals and objectives, and considering the fact that all discourses of the women’s movement, including the One Million Signatures Campaign, would ultimately evolve into real interactions, some basic criticisms have been raised regarding this campaign.
First, in relation to the public: This discourse does not provide clear evidence that proves equal legalization is a priority amongst what Iranian women demand. Generalizing demands and making changes necessitate gender awareness and sexual self-knowledge among women of different classes who each have different needs. Considering this fact, the impact of legal equalization discourse in women’s demands is not yet clear.
Second, in relation to the structures ruling women's life: This discourse has been discussed both in the pre-Islamic revolutionary era and in the post-Islamic revolutionary era. But it has fallen short of providing a clear and strategic analysis of structures ruling women's life, including discriminatory laws. The main slogan of this discourse especially in Meydaan’s Campaign is “change”. A single and clear analysis of measures for this change, however, has not yet been provided or made evident. This discourse does not specify the changes it hopes to take place in the legal system of the family and patriarchal society, especially with regard to achieving legal equalization of men and women.
Third- comprehensiveness and inclusion: Due to the concentration on legal issues, this discourse does not include the growing discrimination against the daily limitations placed upon of women, because these pressures do not necessarily emanate from laws. At the same time, limiting the discursive and interpretational aspects of this discourse leads to overlooking the structures in which discriminatory laws are born, encouraged and stabilized. In some cases, such limitations may lead this progressive discourse to contradict itself. For example Meydaan has a campaign that argues that blood money of men and women should be made equal. Legally, blood money is an Islamic law, under the categorization of penalties and retaliations. But blood money is actually an exception to these laws because when retaliation is not possible (due to certain conditions like unintentional or semi-intentional murder), blood money may substitute it. In this way, defending the equalization of blood money for men and women means defending retaliations like mutilation or execution. This is surely not an objective of the writers behind Meydaan Women’s manifesto. What we intend by issuing such a statement in our manifesto is the consideration of equal rights and the analysis of how discriminatory laws are being utilized. Moreover, fundamental to our Manifesto is our objection to the consideration of men as the bosses of their families, especially contexts in which men's responsibilities in the payment of dowry and alimony are being ignored.
2-The feminist discourse of new religious thinking: This discourse is part of a new religious thinking which includes dynamic jurisprudence as opposed to traditional jurisprudence, and religious rationalism. This perspective and thinking has emerged within the framework of political Islam, and been active in Iran for the past decade especially. New religious thinking believes that it is possible to provide new interpretations of Shi’a jurisprudence corresponding to current realities within society. As such, religion does not interfere with the daily lives of people. The feminist supporters of this discourse have also attempted to give an interpretation of religion that corresponds to the current situation of women and the principles of human rights. They point to the discourse of new religious thinking on women’s rights that emphasizes the feminist criticism of jurisprudence, tradition and customs. Politically, they are influenced by theories of human development. They also believe in the necessity of women's political participation, defending a 30 percent ratio quota for women’s presence in the decision-making capacities and processes, electoral lists, and all other political institutions like the city councils and the Islamic parliament.
Many theorists who are critical of this discourse of religious jurisprudence base their structural criticisms on historical analysis. Proponents of this discourse do not have a comprehensive analysis of power structures ruling women's lives. They have proposed equal or participatory models of family as substitutions for the current patriarchal model and have tried to justify their measures of equal family rights with new interpretations of the Quran and its customs. While they have defended the 30 percent participation of women in political decision-making processes, they have not done enough to tackle the undemocratic structures ruling the elections. This paradoxical approach would eventually lead to women's failure in political participation.
3-Social(ist) Feminist discourse: This discourse has been shaped by the critical approach used by leftist women from leftist political organizations mainly represented by men. This is a multi-layered and varied movement operating in the past two decades. Its supporters are officially or unofficially active in different groups. Some of them work against globalization, and others are supporters of the global movement of women. They have concentrated their efforts on the Global Charter of Women based on the five principles of freedom, equalization, peace, justice and solidarity. Another branch within the same group believes that women’s freedom movement is an indispensible part of the human rights/freedom movement. They believe that the elimination of sexual cruelty against women is only achieved through an all-out fight with the cruelty of capitalist systems. According to proponents of this idea, the only effective force in women’s liberalization is based on the human principles of socialism.
The common ground for all of these groups is that each attempts to make a feminist criticism of the capitalist system via a socialist approach. For example, they demand unemployment insurance for women and children working in underground workshops. They also call for insurance and social security services for housewives and also the cancellation of temporary job contracts. The most important issues considered by this discourse have been poverty, violence against women, and the destructive aspects of Neo-liberalism and globalization. This approach considers sexual, class and sectarian inequalities as the most important problems. Moreover, they also believe that the demands for legal equalization will lead nowhere unless the sole objective of it is freedom.
Despite the courageous efforts and the valuable messages circulating within the discourses based on social feminism especially on the path of fighting capitalist system and neo-liberal globalization, it seems that these discourses are often ultra-idealist; their objectives do not seem achievable. As such, this may lead to women activists' inaction and immobility. The supporters of these theories are sometimes so absolutist that they consider socialism as the only way to liberalize women. In this way, they totally ignore the complicated relationships of the multi-systems of power.
It is true that most country’s political and social structures are entangled in the global capitalist system, and the fight against globalization and its effects on women’s lives is a starting point for women’s movements. But this is not exactly the case in Iran. One cannot imagine that the elimination of discriminations, emanating from the multi-systems of patriarchy and religious conservatism, is achieved only by the elimination of capitalism.
By reviewing the most important women’s issues discussed above and comparing them with the current discourses within the women’s movement in Iran, we discover that this movement is facing new challenges every day, and the lacking and limitations of suitable analytical tools. Whilst we believe in the necessity of all the current trends within the domestic women’s movement, and the global ones for that matter, we do not consider them to be sufficient. None has a comprehensive view and approach against the weave and textures of ever-changing socio-political and power structures which rule women's lives.
Historically and in comparison to other contemporary movements, the Iranian women’s movement is in its most active phase. But to face the ever-new and changing discriminations against women, we must expand and fortify the scope of the current activities to achieve better results.
Meydaan Women: No to all Neofundamentalist symbols
We at Meydaan believe that without having a comprehensive analysis of power structures ruling women's lives, it is impossible to define clear strategies for the movement.
From our own viewpoint and experience, we have tried to portray the situation of Iranian women. We believe that the power structures ruling women's lives are entangled in a combined network of patriarchal, autocratic, neofundamentalist and capitalist systems. At the same time, chauvinism and racism are placing additional pressures on women from minority religions, sects, and races. The power structures that operate in Iran are discriminatory and undemocratic; they do not recognize the equality of all citizens.
A simple definition of a discriminatory situation is when people who have equal circumstances have no access to equal choices. Discrimination has thus resulted in entangled power structures that subjugate women, determining their sexual, racial, religious, and sectarian aspects, all the while rendering them powerless.
Historically, fundamentalism is a political movement that promotes one reading of religious, national and racial identities as the only true interpretation. It does everything in its power to impose this view on others. Fundamentalists claim they represent legitimized tradition, using this as a device to empower themselves. Moreover, fundamentalists are always commenting on the negative effects of modernity of the ‘West’. However, they use modern, Western technologies, such as the media and weaponry to reach their goals. Fundamentalist projects may vary from one another, yet their similarities manifest in the following: promoters of fundamentalism try to legitimize various traditions of religion, ideology, nationality, and culture case by case to impose their will and gain power.
For all breeds of fundamentalism, a woman’s body and soul are the main targets. Some observers believe that fundamentalism has three main characteristics: controlling women’s bodies, mixing politics and religion, and opposing pluralism. Fundamentalists try to use violence to control all aspects of women's lives and impose their own definition of ‘the good woman’ on all women within society. Hence, it is not difficult to understand why neofundamentalists, who have gained political power in Iran in recent years, are presenting a model of the patriarchal family as the only legitimate, acceptable and holy model of family—a model that defies and denounces other lifestyles.
Iranian neofundamentalism uses traditional jurisprudence, patriarchal culture, and the government monopoly of capital to convey only one depiction of women and their legitimate roles. It also uses all alienating violent tools at its disposal to impose this picture on all women. In such a picture, a woman has neither any particular identity nor personality; she can only be defined by her role within the family. In such a familial role, sexual obedience is a must, and gendered division of work/labor is obligatory, and playing the role of mother is dominant over all the potential roles for women. Similarly, neofundamentalists propose differentiation in the educational systems for men and women. Such divided systems promote and strengthen the role of mother and wife for women, and for men, the role of breadwinner, the zealot, and the guardian of women's honor and behavior, body, clothing and passions.
Whilst there are a plethora of reasons for discrimination against women, the main reason is that discrimination is the result of the system of power and its structures. Considering the growing trends in Iran in the past three years, and the dominance of neofundamentalist policies over those expedient policies for the good of all citizens, even if neofundamentalism is not the root of all current women’s problems, it is certainly deeply influential in controlling every aspect and dimension of women’s lives. Unless we defeat neofundamentalism, the termination of such entangled power structures ruling women’s existences will be impossible. Women thus face a fresh conceptualization against them; overlooking such a project is disregarding and promoting the government’s official, essentialist, institutionalized, and legalized anti-female policies and laws. Mostly hidden from the public in the past three years, the new social safety improvement bill reveals itself to be an indicator of such policies.
The new project of neofundamentalism, which has gradually gained the support of both traditional jurisprudence proponents and politicians, there does not exists any difference between the public and private arenas, and as a consequence all spheres become a means to control and overwhelm women. It is thus that the neofundamentalists, contrary to the reformist and practical policies of previous administrations in Iran from 1991 to 2001, has proceeded to perceive society as an object which could be shaped in accordance with their specific models of theories and structures. Supporters of this view criticize the family's authority in both children's education and civic behavior; they also promote certain governmental formulas for the families to raise children. In many respects, non-compliance of such formulas will be met with punishment.
This transformation of moral codes into laws is not limited to the rearing of children. Indeed, it covers all aspects of women’s lives. Concepts such as modesty or prudence and chastity, which, according to many people, are legitimate concepts, are used by neofundamentalists to define new structures for women's lives. In such a way, the Hijab is not limited to the prevailing jurisprudential definition of ‘covering the body’. The manifestations of such policies are evident in: the separation of the sexes in all public places; the limitations placed on women’s education and employment; the enactment of preventive laws for the employment of single women; the pursuing of a policy of silence on sexual relationships and the prohibition of any sexual education before marriage; the demanding of public displays of punishments in this regard; the politicization of the so-called sexual corruption; the naming of it as the most important challenge of the government; and lastly, the representation of women as the guilty party and/or sex and gender. In this theoretical political system, men are portrayed as characters that become easily aroused. And once sexually aroused by women, they have no control over their minds and bodies. Such a purported lack of control thus put forward as the reason for the prohibition of open architectural spaces.
The neofundamentalist project, attempting to fortify and institutionalize itself in society, confines women’s issues to only discussions pertaining to familial and sexual relationships. It also places non-negotiable rules on these discussions and uses religion as a tool to promote its own ideology. The propaganda currently circulating about the normalization of polygamy as the sole solution for the crises of sexual infidelity, social problems emanating from the growing number of divorces, etc., are only just a few examples of how such a system has attempted to determine the rules for every aspect of women’s lives-- even the most private issues.
Neofundamentalists intend for women of the contemporary world to return to traditions that primarily promote women being covered up and confined to the home. This includes the unemployment of women and the separation of sexes in all public places.
Meydaan Women's Group reminds all women activists of the danger of this growing neofundamentalist wave. It believes that it is time to break the silence and protest against these policies before they become stricter and more inflexible through legislated laws. The need for this fight is clear and evident.
Meydaan Women’s Group has tried to address every detectable symbol of neofundamentalism. For example, the abolishment of stoning is an urgent human demand; at the same time, it is a symbol of control, defining the sexuality of women and is very important in this regard. Meydaan has always defied the government’s decision to prohibit women from attending sport matches, especially football games. This banning is not only a clear symbol of gendered and sexual separation, but it is also an example of the separation of sexes in all public places. Meydaan Women’s Group has called for an end to the social safety improvement program, the gender quotas in universities, and has presented feminist criticism on the legislative bills such as ‘Supporting the Family’ and ‘Islamic punishment’.
On the eve of the third year of Meydaan Women’s Group, we are growing more aware of the development of the neofundamentalist project against women. As such, the group concentrates its discourse on protesting all neofundamentalist symbols, both known and unknown. Alongside our defiance of stoning and other anti-women articles in the Islamic punishment bill, as well as our protests against the social safety improvement program, gender quotas in universities and fighting against the supporting of family bill and separation of sexes in public places, Meydaan pursues activities which remonstrate against many other issues emanating from the neofundamentalist project.