Q. Can you please explain some of the shortcomings of The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)?The full interview is available here.
A. Iran is concerned about various issues of the mentioned convention. CEDAW undermines the traditional family structure which is much respected in our society. The preamble states, "A change in the traditional role of men as well as the role of women in society and in the family is needed to achieve full equality between men and women." This requires states to "Modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices based on stereotyped roles for men and women."
This convention denies any distinctions between men and women. It defines discrimination in its own words as "any distinction on the basis of sex," in "any field". This is to say, it ignores differences between the roles, rights and obligations of men and women in the natural world.
The convention also states that governments should "ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, access to health care services, including those related to family planning". This sort of rhetoric also includes open access to abortion services.
Abortion, of course, is only one of the contradictions between Islamic law and the Convention. Countries that have ratified CEDAW will also be obliged to welcome sexual relations out of wedlock, which Islam prohibits because of the harm it does to the society.
The Islamic tradition of hijab frees women from being perceived primarily as sexual instruments and helps cleanse the society of promiscuity. A healthy and vigorous society is considered essential in Islam for individuals to be able to nurture and develop their abilities.
Societies which promote women as sexual objects also have a horrendous rate of violence toward women. The wisdom behind this dress code is to minimize sexual enticement and degradation in society as much as possible for both men and women.
Regarding Islamic laws relating to inheritance, women have been granted the benefit of being completely entitled to their own property.
A woman receives a dowry at marriage and can choose to keep all of her inheritance for herself. She does receive less inheritance than her male sibling but this is due to the difference which derives from the obligation men have to support their wives financially, while the woman's share would be entirely at her own disposal.
Islam allows polygamy for men whereas there is no such law for women. Certain circumstances require such remedial laws to be introduced in the society. Due to conditions like war, the total number of women sometimes exceeds the number of men. At such times, the society must resolve the dilemma of caring for women who have the right of marriage, emotional support and welfare. In these circumstances polygamy is the only just solution.
We4Change challenges Iranian laws that are unjust and detrimental towards women's equality. A full explanation can be found on their site. Nafiseh Azad, another campaigner with We4Change, has posted about the extreme hypocrisy and inanity of Javaheri's arrest.