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[16days_discussion] Iran: Women Stop Registration of Khoon-Bas Marriage as "National Heritage"

16 Days Campaign 16days at cwgl.rutgers.edu
Fri Aug 23 11:53:45 EDT 2013


 From http://www.wluml.org/ar/node/8257


  Iran: Iranian Women's Rights Activists Stop The Registration Of
  Anti-Women Tradition As 'National Heritage'

On October 1^st , more than three hundred human rights and women's 
rights activists published a statement in objection to the request of 
our provinces in Iran for registration of an intra-tribal tradition 
called "cease-blood^1 " to be placed on the National Iranian Heritage 
list. Those who objected regarded the request to be against the Human 
Rights Code and called the action anti-feminist.

In part of the statement they articulate:

*"If only the councilors of The National Heritage Institute could have 
listened to the heartbreaking stories of these women who were the 
victims of conflicts among men. There exists a common proverb used in 
situations where a woman faces the unkindness and brutality of her 
husband's family "Am I an exchange for blood?" and for a woman whose 
blood has literally been exchanged for the lives of the other party, it 
is quite predictable what a miserable life she will experience. Cases of 
depression, running away, self-immolation and suicide is high among 
these women. Are the authorities aware of the consequences of such an 
endorsement in the community? Is it not true that in Islam treating 
women as commodities in marriage is prohibited by law and that a 
marriage against the will of the woman is to be annulled?"*

The signatories close their statement by declaring a plea for the 
prevention of the addition of this inhumane tradition to The National 
Heritage List. They ask the authorities to collect the necessary data 
and to study the prevalence and consequences of these kinds of 
marriages. In addition they ask that the necessary conditions are 
established in order to prevent similar cases from occurring, and to 
further support the divorce requests and grievances from women who are 
involved in such situations."


*Statement by women's rights and human rights activists condemning the 
registration of /Khoon-Bas /(a tribal custom) in The National Heritage 
List: This is not a source of national pride!*

The Cultural Heritage Organization's efforts to register the tradition 
of /"Khoon-Bas"/ as a traditional practice has shocked and dismayed 
women's and human rights activists.

/Khoon-bas/ (cease-blood) is an inhumane tribal practice in which an 
innocent woman or sometimes a young child is put forward in the name of 
marriage and used as a means of reconciliation. The girl or woman is in 
fact considered to be blood compensation. The women trapped in this 
situation are sometimes married to a man who is much older and usually 
already married. She is not allowed to request a divorce, so she and her 
children are destined to suffer and be humiliated throughout their lives.

Surprisingly, those advocating registering this custom consider it a way 
to promote a culture of peace and forgiveness, and a preventative 
measure against future conflict and retaliation between different 
groups. Peace and reconciliation through mediation and forgiveness is of 
course positive and the women's rights movement has always strived to 
prevent any form of death retribution, in many cases being successful. 
However, the culture in which the will of a woman in determining the 
circumstances of her own life is ignored is in no way endorsed by any of 
the death retribution opponents. How can a primitive culture in ancient 
times which demanded "blood for blood" and where there were no 
legislations, be representative of peaceful Iranian culture?

The way to prevent continued conflicts (and fatalities) between tribal 
communities is not to sacrifice the life and future of a woman who is 
offered as a /"Khoon-bas"/, but to put an end to the tradition, law, and 
culture of retribution itself. Unfortunately, the authorities do not 
prevent the traditions of violent avengement, but even go as far as to 
legitimize, promote and disseminate them. This means that they 
themselves strengthen the roots of /"khoon-bas"/, and commend this kind 
of misogynistic and otherwise illegal practice. The way to deal with the 
destructive and ongoing conflicts is not to ruin the lives of more 
innocent human beings, but is to amend the current law, update it, and 
promote it nationwide.

If only the councilors of The National Heritage Institute could have 
listened to the heartbreaking stories of these women who were the 
victims of conflicts among men. There exists a common proverb used in 
situations where a woman faces the unkindness and brutality of her 
husband's family /"Am I an exchange for blood?"/ and for a woman whose 
blood has literally been exchanged for the lives of the other party, it 
is quite predictable that she will experience a miserable life. Cases of 
depression, running away, self-immolation and suicide is high among 
these women. Are the authorities aware of the consequences of such an 
endorsement in the community? Is it not true that in Islam treating 
women as commodities in marriage is prohibited by law and that marriage 
against the will of the woman is to be annulled?

Is it logical to preserve a custom just because it has been practiced 
amongst some of Iran's most ancient communities or to consider it a 
source of national pride?  It is crucial that the governmental 
authorities prevent the addition of this inhumane practice to The 
National Heritage list. We implore these authorities to collect the 
necessary data and to study the prevalence and consequences of these 
kinds of marriages, in order to establish the necessary conditions to 
prevent similar cases, as well as to support divorce requests and 
grievances from women who are involved in such situations.

A few days after this statement was published, the registration of 
/Khoon-bas/ was abandoned.

Submitted on ????, 10/12/2012 - 16:24
in

  * ????? <http://www.wluml.org/ar/taxonomy/term/4>
  * ????? ?? ?????? <http://www.wluml.org/ar/taxonomy/term/20>
  * Culturally Justified Violence; Forced Marriage; Women Human Rights
    <http://www.wluml.org/ar/taxonomy/term/412>



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The 16 Days Team
16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign
Center for Women's Global Leadership
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