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Revolution and Regression

Mon, Dec 29, 1980

Biography

formalThe visibility of women became one of the main points of contention for the fundamentalist opposition to the Shah’s regime. Ayatollah Khomeini’s major contention was the presence of women in socio-political activity and their interference in the family laws. He had objected strongly to the franchise for women and had issued a fatwa that banned women’s participation in politics, calling it a form of prostitution, a fatwa that he was later forced to rescind in the face of women’s active participation in the revolution.

The revolution that began as a movement for democratization and expanded participation turned into a success for the Islamist extremists whose first acts were to overturn much that the women’s movement had achieved. The new regime nullified the family laws, forced women to wear the chador or a uniform that included head covering, banned women from participating in any profession or field of education that required unchaperoned interaction between men and women, and segregated men and women in all public spaces. Over time, however, massive protests by women helped reverse some of the oppressive measures of the fundamentalist theocracy.

Read on: A Woman in Exile

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About Mahnaz Afkhami

A lifetime advocate for the rights of women, Mahnaz Afkhami works with activists across the world, especially in Muslim majority societies, to help women become leaders. She is Founder and President of Women’s Learning Partnership for Rights, Development, and Peace (WLP), Executive Director of Foundation for Iranian Studies...more