Measure Would Urge New Jersey Congressional Delegation to Speak Out Against Iran’s Record of Failure on Women’s Rights
TRENTON – A resolution sponsored by Senators Loretta Weinberg and Diane Allen, two of the four co-chairs of the Women’s Legislative Caucus – and co-sponsored by every woman currently serving in the State Senate – expressing opposition to the recent election of Iran to the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women was approved by a voice vote in the Senate today.
“Iran’s track record on women’s rights is abhorrent, and promoting Iran to the UN Commission on the Status of Women sends the wrong message to women around the globe who have fought for better treatment and equal standing from their nations’ governments,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen. “This isn’t about allowing an alternative viewpoint to enter the discussion on the status of women – it’s about ignoring the history of violence perpetuated on women in the name of Iran’s official government. We cannot stand idly by while a nation with such an engrained and disturbingly misogynistic outlook is allowed to shape international policy towards women.”
“Because of the membership of Iran on this Commission any conclusions that the commission reaches would be rendered moot and meaningless,” Allen continued. “That is sad because so much needs to be done to raise the status of women across the globe.”
The resolution, SR-65, expresses the Senate’s opposition to Iran’s election to the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women, which took place on April 28, 2010. The Commission, which was created in 1946, identified as one of its core principles that it exists, “to raise the status of women, irrespective of nationality, race, language or religion, to equality with men in all fields of human enterprise, and to eliminate all discrimination against women in the provisions of statutory law, in legal maxims or rules, or in interpretation of customary law.”
The Islamic Republic of Iran, contrary to the stated purpose of the Commission on the Status of Women, has been “a case study in discrimination and denial of rights for women,” according to the two lawmakers. Women in Iran are systemically denied basic rights enjoyed by women in other countries around the world, including the right to choose a husband, to work without a husband’s consent, to divorce their husbands or maintain legal guardianship over their children, and to be protected against violence in public places if their style of dress does not conform with standards issued by the country’s morality police. Iranian child care centers are currently being closed at an alarming rate, limiting women’s ability to work away from the home, and government programs to promote family planning are slowly being eliminated.
In committee, Senator Weinberg relayed a recent story in which an Iranian woman, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, was sentenced to death by stoning for the high crime of adultery. The stoning sentence has since been lifted by Iran’s Judiciary Chief after reports of the sentence drew outrage from around the world; however, Ms. Ashtiani could still face death by hanging.
Women in Iran who peacefully seek changes to the regressive policies of their government are charged with threatening national security and are arrested, beaten, tortured and imprisoned.
The resolution would also urge New Jersey’s congressional delegation to speak out against the election of Iran to the Commission on the Status of Women. While Congress does not have any formal control over the actions of the United Nations, the lawmakers believe a more prominent national voice could convince the United Nations to re-examine the decision, or at the very least balance it out with a more progressive voice for women’s rights.
“If the United Nations can’t bring itself to publicly rebuke Iran for its treatment of women, then nations of good conscience have to speak up,” said Senator Weinberg. “It would be an injustice to allow Iran to have a voice at the table regarding women’s rights, when that country has trampled on the rights of women for decades. The UN should be criticizing the discrimination and denial of basic human rights that women face in Iran on a regular basis, not condoning such intolerance by giving Iran a place on the Commission on the Status of Women.”
The resolution was unanimously approved by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee in June. It will now be filed by the Senate Secretary and transmitted to the President of the United States, the UN Secretary-General, and every member of New Jersey’s Congressional delegation.