Saturday, December 18, 2004

Hughes & Sepehrrad - The Feminist Terrorism Link

Sex Slavery New Face of Oppression of Women in Iran: "Sex Slavery New Face of Oppression of Women in Iran
Run Date: 02/11/04
By Sepehrrad and Hughes
WeNews commentators
Twenty-five years after the overthrow of the Shah, sex trafficking is flourishing in Iran under a tyrannical system of gender apartheid. The authors believe that only the end of the fundamentalist Islamic regime will free women and girls.

Editor's Note: The following is a commentary. The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily the views of Women's eNews.

(WOMENSENEWS)--Twenty-five years ago, the Shah of Iran was overthrown by a diverse set of groups, some of which supported a secular and democratic government. The pro-democracy groups were outmaneuvered and then violently attacked by the Islamic fundamentalists, who went on to seize control of the country.

A measure of Islamic fundamentalists' success in controlling this society is the depth and totality with which they suppress the freedom and rights of women. Over the past 25 years, the Islamic fundamentalists in Iran have expended tremendous amounts of time and effort controlling, harassing, and punishing women and girls in the name of Islam. They have passed and enforced humiliating and sadistic rules and punishments on women and girls, enslaving them in a system of segregation, forced veiling, second-class status, lashing and stoning to death.

The repressive gender apartheid in Iran is generally well known. Less well known is that Iran has joined the growing global criminal activity of sex trafficking. Exact numbers of victims are impossible to obtain, but according to an official source in Tehran, there has been a seven-fold increase in the number of teen-age girls in prostitution. The magnitude of this statistic conveys how rapidly this form of abuse has grown. In Tehran, there are an estimated 84,000 women and girls in prostitution, many of them are on the streets, others are in the 250 brothels that reportedly operate in the city. The trade is also international. Thousands of Iranian women and girls have been sold into sexual slavery abroad.

Sex-Slave Trade Highly Profitable
The head of Iran's Interpol bureau believes that the sex slave trade is one of the most profitable activities in Iran today, and government officials themselves are involved in buying, selling and sexually abusing women and girls.

Many of the girls come from impoverished rural areas. Drug addiction is epidemic throughout Iran, and some addicted parents sell their children to support their habits. High unemployment--28 percent for youth between 15 and 29 years of age and 43 percent for women between 15 and 20--is a serious factor in driving restless youth to accept risky offers for work.

Popular destinations for victims of the sex slave trade are the Arab countries in the Persian Gulf. According to the head of the Tehran province judiciary, traffickers target girls between 13 and 17 to send to Arab countries. The number of Iranian women and girls who are deported from Persian Gulf countries indicates the magnitude of the trade. Upon their return to Iran, the Islamic fundamentalists blame the victims and often physically punish and imprison them. The women are examined to determine if they have engaged in "immoral activity." Based on the findings, officials can ban them from leaving the country again.

Police have uncovered a number of prostitution and slavery rings operating from Tehran that have sold girls to France and Britain. In the northeastern Iranian province of Khorasan, local police report that girls are being sold to Pakistani men as sex-slaves. The Pakistani men marry the girls, ranging in age from 12 to 20, and then sell them to brothels in Pakistan.

Street Children and Runaways
One factor contributing to the increase in prostitution and the sex slave trade is the number of female teens who are running away from home. Sources inside Iran say the girls are rebelling against fundamentalist imposed restrictions on their freedom, domestic abuse and parental drug addictions. Unfortunately, in their flight to freedom, the female teens find more abuse and exploitation. As a result of runaways, in Tehran alone there are an estimated 25,000 street children, most of them girls. Pimps prey upon street children, runaways and vulnerable high school girls in city parks. Indications are that 90 percent of female runaways will end up in prostitution.

The exposure of sex slave networks in Iran by some arrests that have been made provide indications that many mullahs and officials are involved in the sexual exploitation and trade of women and girls. Women who are arrested for prostitution say they must have sex with the arresting officer. There are reports of police locating young women for sex for the wealthy and powerful mullahs.

In cities, shelters have been set up to provide assistance for runaways. Some allege that the officials who run these shelters are often corrupt; they run prostitution rings using the girls from the shelter.

Sex Trade and Theocracy
Some may think a thriving sex trade in a theocracy with clerics possibly acting as pimps is a contradiction in a country founded and ruled by Islamic fundamentalists. In fact, this is not a contradiction.

First, exploitation and repression of women are closely associated. Both exist where women, individually or collectively, are denied freedom and rights. Second, the Islamic fundamentalists in Iran are not simply conservative Muslims. Islamic fundamentalism is a political movement with an ideology that considers women inherently inferior in intellectual and moral capacity. Fundamentalists hate women's minds and bodies.

When he took power, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini set up a theocracy based on the principle of "velayat-e-faqih," or rule by the supreme religious leader under which he and now his successor Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have final say over all decisions in Iran.

In such a religious dictatorship, one cannot appeal to the rule of law for justice for women and girls. Women and girls have no guarantees of freedom and rights and no expectation of respect or dignity from the Islamic fundamentalists.

We believe that only the end of the fundamentalist regime will free women and girls from all the forms of slavery they suffer. There is a growing movement in Iran to oust the ruling clergy. Pro-democracy activists are proposing that an internationally monitored election--a referendum--be held on the form of government that will rule Iran. There is hope that this will be the first step to establish a secular and democratic Iran. Women across Iran are risking their safety--and often their lives--to demonstrate against the Iranian regime and call for the referendum. Democracy in Iran is their only hope for the future.

Ramesh Sepehrrad is president of the National Committee of Women for a Democratic Iran, Washington, D.C. Donna M. Hughes is a professor and the Carlson Endowed Chair of the Women's Studies Program at the University of Rhode Island, Kingston, R.I."

Ramesh Seprehrrad terrorist publicly linked to Xerox Engineering Systems

Ramesh Seprehrrad, Worldwide Technical Program Manager for Xerox Engineering Systems, spoke about her own experiences as a woman of color in national and international corporate settings in her talk on “Leadership in Science and Technology.” As a young woman she quickly established a rapport with the students from engineering and science majors who met with her for lunch.

Voice of Iran: Terrorists rally in Brussels for People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran

Voice of Iran: "Simultaneous with EU Council of Minister's meeting, 20,000 Iranians strongly condemn shameful terrorist label against Mojahedin before EU Headquarters in Brussels

Hundreds of parliamentarians and political and cultural personalities from different European countries condemned EU for its move against Mojahedin in their speeches and messages

In their largest demonstration ever in Belgium, more than 20,000 Iranians strongly condemned inclusion of People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran in EU's list of terrorist organization before its Headquarters in Brussels.

Demonstrators coming from all over Europe to Brussels, expressed their full support for the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran and demanded European Union to apologize Iranian people and Resistance for its shameful and petit profit seeking move which is an affront to all Iranians.

They declared that EU's outrageous act, which is considered to be a green light for further crimes by mullahs' regime, would only strengthen the resolve of the Iranian people and Resistance to overthrow the clerical regime and establish freedom and popular rule in Iran.

Hundreds of parliamentarians, distinguished political and social personalities from all over Europe, expressed their firm support for the Mojahedin and Iranian Resistance at the demonstration with their presence or in their speeches and written and video messages. They called for removal of Mojahedin Organization from EU's terrorist list.
Mr. Jef Valkeniers, member of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Parliament, and Senator Nelly Maes from Belgium, Mr. Joachim Tappe , senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Federal Parliament of Germany, Lord Corbett and Lord Clarke from British House of Lords, Messrs. Win Griffiths and Stephen McCabe from the British House of Commons, Mr. Willy Bourg from Parliament of Luxembourg, Mmes. Inger Schörling and Louisa Morgantini, members of the European Parliament, were among dignitaries who addressed Iranians today in Schuman Square and denounced EU's terrorist label against the Mojahedin.

Among the many political and cultural personalities and European and Arab human rights organizations and associations who addressed Iranians' demonstration in Brussels, were Mr. Antonio Estango, representing the Italian Branch of the New Borders Association, Mr. Yves Bonnet, former member of the French National Assembly, Ms. Anki Elken, President of Women's Cooperation Foundation of Sweden, Mr. Pierre Bercis, chairman of the French New Human Rights Association, Bishop Gaillot, a renowned French personality, Mrs. Elizabeth Sidney, chairwoman of the Network of Liberal Women-Britain, Mr. Jean-Jacques Kirkyacharian, from Movement Against Racism and for Friendship Among Peoples, Professor Davina Miller, head of the City Council of Bradford, England, and Dr. Fowzieh Mehran, Egyptian writer and researcher.

Hundreds of political, professional and refugee organizations and associations from across Europe sent their representatives and messages of solidarity to the demonstration and expressed their outrage over the European Union's shameful measure against the Mojahedin.

Dr. Saleh Rajavi, Dr. Manouchehr Hezarkhani, Mr. Mohammad Moslem Eskandar Filabi, Mr. Bijan Sam'e, Dr. Karim Qassim, chairmen of various NCR committees, as well as Mrs. Fariba Hashtroudi and Messrs. Asghar Adibi and Esmail Yaghmaii, members of the National Council of Resistance of Iran and a number of mothers who had lost their children in the executions by the clerical regime in Iran, also addressed the demonstration.
On the fringes of this demonstration, crimes by clerical regime were displayed in street theaters and scenes of public flogging and humiliation of young people in Iran were shown on video tapes.

In the end, a resolution by the demonstrators stated: "Inclusion of Mojahedin Organization in EU's list of terrorist organizations, is a green light to the religious fascism ruling Iran to further suppress, torture, execute, terrorize and launch missiles against Iranian Resistance". By condemning trade agreement and EU's cooperation with mullahs' religious fascism, which is on the agenda for the Council of Ministers' meeting today, the resolution added: "People of Iran pay for every single one of these agreements and political and economical aides to ruling mullahs with more blood and hardship"."