An Unusual Report!
Last year Iran’s parliament, the Majlis, approved the generalities of the hijab protection bill. The bill, which was signed by three women in addition to the many men MPs, contains some dangerous provisions which not only indicate a new wave of anti-women attacks but will also push society into greater hatred, discrimination, dishonesty and divisions. Here are some highlights of the bill:
· Drivers will become agents for identifying women who are not properly dressed. They will face monetary penalties if they fail to report instances of improper hijab. Repeat offenders will get negative points.
· Heads of government departments will become agents with the obligation to identify women with improper hijab and deduct a penalty amount from their salaries. Such penalties are not provided in the national employment regulations.
· Government offices must segregate women’s and men’s workspaces.
· Women will not be able to work from 10pm to 6am.
· Property managers will have the responsibility of informing officials about buildings that carry satellite dishes.
There are other provisions related to the topics above but in short this law is completely illogical and disregards the exigencies of the day. The general principles of this bill were approved in the Majlis about a year ago but the more reasonable and rational minds of the regime noticed it only recently and thus published their comments on it. The reason for the delay is not known but regardless of it, the bill brings more hopelessness on the cruelty on women.
But even though it is late, the report by the Majlis Research Center is unprecedented in its content. So because unlike in the past when no official agency ever questioned any actions by the regime even over policies and practices that humiliate women or curtail their freedoms, this report actually says the bill is detrimental. For the very time a report by an official agency of the regime writes that a specific law will bring anger and discontent to a large number of women in the country. Completely unprecedented!
Still one must note that according to current laws, the Majlis has no duties to take the conclusions of the report into account. However, since the Majlis Research Center is an official agency whose members are one hundred percent loyal to the Islamic regime, a disregard for the report could not only be interpreted as a confrontational gesture against women but could also indicate that the Majlis has no intention of legislating on the bases of public need or the exigencies of the political will of the regime. Then, the call will be that the real purpose for such legislation is nothing other than fighting with Iranian women who for the last 37 years been subjected to humiliation, name-calling, imprisonment, floggings, penalizations, even when women seem to have accepted this imposed hijab.
Had reason dominated, such a bill would not have even hit the Majlis floor for a vote, even if a number of anti-women representatives had wanted to pass it. It should not have been put on the agenda to begin with. Furthermore, could the Majlis Research Center not launched this debate much earlier, especially as the bill had been passed about a year ago?
When we read such reports, our hearts want to feel optimistic that there are some good hands around who want to prevent a bad situation from getting worse. But the fact that this report comes a year after the passage of the bill only shocks us.
This is why even some positive actions create a sense of pessimism and negativism among citizens. A report like this does not diminish this hopelessness. A tired mind suspects that perhaps the Majlis center is in fact not an independent center and that it was simply waiting for a signal from higher authorities to publish its report.
This bill is so flawed that researchers at the Majlis center could not have missed its negative impact and illogical provisions through their first reading of it. Here are some conclusions that the report makes:
· Those employers who will not be able to segregate men and women in the workplace will fire women or refrain from employing them altogether. Regarding working hours, the report says since some women work as nurses or in bakeries and have to work during the hours that are banned in the bill, they will go underground and work discretely.
It appears that the Majlis Research Center is unaware that in non-Socialist countries, whenever controversy arises over a bill that is likely to pass in parliament, a reaction takes place in public and in this case women would be fired from their jobs even before the bill becomes law.
The late publication of the report by the Majlis Research Center may have already inflicted damage on women in this regard, but one hopes that reason will prevail and stop this bill from becoming law before every Iranian is tasked to play a spying role and report on everyone else.