The Iranian government affiliated newspaper ‘Etemad’ described
protests in Khuzestan province as being far beyond and against a TV show. The paper wrote: 'Apparently the real reason for these unrest are issues such as unemployment, low living conditions, and poor distribution of goods, and many other issues that plague the people.' The demonstrations by Arab Iranians against the regime, started on the 8 days of Nowruz March 28, entered in its second week. The Iranian-Canadians during their weekly protests in front of the Parliament hill and across from Prime Minister's office here in Ottawa stood in solidarity with the people of Khuzestan and the political prisoner Golrokh Iraee. They also commemorated the 35 members of People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran PMOI/MEK who were killed by Iraqi forces in Camp Ashraf in 2011.
After more than 60 days of hunger strike, political prisoner Golrokh Iraee went in coma and transferred to a hospital but the prison officials refused to tell her family which hospital. Golrokh's family finally found her and could talk with her for a few minutes. The human rights activists in the past week during their numerous storm tweet called for Golrokh's return to Evin prison from Qarchak prison after treatment. Maryam Akbari Monfared who's sentenced to 15 years in jailed because of her sibling political activities declared 3 days of hunger strike on Wed. in solidarity with Golrokh. Also Shabnam Maddazadeh former political prisoner who spent 5 years in jail, started a 3 day hunger strike as well. Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee and Atena Daemi were unlawfully transferred to Qarchak Prison on January 24, 2018, after being brutalized because they had resisted against interrogation based on a new case fabricated against them. They were exiled to the notorious prison in Varamin with substandard and deplorable living conditions to endure more pressure and physical and psychological torture.
The series called, “Paytakht” or the capital, which is a comedy making fun of the marriage of two teenage girls, 12 or 13 years old, has created great concern among children’s rights advocates.
According to children’s rights advocates, the TV series which makes fun of early marriage has already violated many children’s rights in the form of teasing and dialogues between the characters and the producers must account for them. The bill proposing increasing the age of marriage for girls has been pending for years in the Iranian parliament and opposed by male members of the parliament.
According to Farshid Yazdani, social researcher and executive director of the Children’s Rights Association, nearly 13,000 girl children had become widows because of divorce in 2015, alone. The number of girl children who have married under 15 years of age in Iran, increased from 33,000 in 2006 to 43,000 in 2009, 30 per cent in only three years. (The state-run Khabar Online website - April 1, 2018). Shahrbanou Imami, member of Tehran’s City Council and former member of parliament has asserted that there are 15,000 widows in Iran under 15 years of age. (The state-run ILNA news agency – March 8, 2018). Zahra Ayatollahi, head of the Social-Cultural Council of Women and Family at the Supreme Cultural Revolutionary Council, also asserted in a television interview that based on the statistics of the National Statistics Center, there were 36,422 marriages of girls under 15 years of age last year (March 2016-March 2017). (The state-run ISNA news agency – March 10, 2018). An NGO announced that 1,200 girl children under 14 years of age had turned widows in 2015 and that there were 2,000 child widows between 9 and 12 years old.
A group of women staged a protest on Sunday, April 1, in the streets of Shadegan (southwestern Iran) chanting in Arabic, “I give my life for Ahvaz.” The protest took place in step with the protests and demonstrations of thousands of Arab Iranians since Wednesday, March 28, against an offensive program insulting Iran’s Arab citizens broadcast by the state television in Nowruz holidays. 400 people have been arrested so far in Khuzestan province, many of the are youths.
The protests have continued until late Sunday night, April 1, in Ahvaz and other cities and villages of Khuzistan. Security forces have been dispatched from other cities and stationed in Khuzistan cities on Monday, April 2, to quell any outbreak of protests during this traditional Persian holiday on the 13th day of the New Year, called Sizdebedar. Reports from Ahvaz, Abadan, Khorramshahr, Mahshahr and other cities indicate a de facto state of curfew in most of Khuzestan cities.
At least two women have been identified among those arrested during the protests in Ahvaz on Friday, March 30, 2018.
In some Iranian provinces, the per centage of illiteracy is over 30 per cent and a considerable number of children under 17 do not have the opportunity to continue their education. The parents of most of these children are illiterate, themselves, and there is a meaningful correlation between the level of education of parents and children who drop out of school.
The number of girls dropping out of school in western Khuzistan and other cities on the Iran-Iraq border is alarming. The provinces of Sistan and Baluchistan, Khuzistan, West Azerbaijan and East Azerbaijan top the list with regards to illiteracy of girl children.
Poverty of families and not affording to pay for their children’s education, children’s participation in the family’s economic activities, cultural problems, seasonal immigrations, not having a registered birth certificate, are among the reasons children are deprived of going to school. These reasons are more acceptable among families when it gets to girls.
In some provinces, early marriages prevent girls from continuing their education and many families need their daughters to help them in earning the family’s income.
Mixed-gender high school classes are also among the reasons girls have to quit school in some regions. According to a report published in 2015 by the presidential Directorate on Women and Family Affairs, the illiteracy of women and girls in Iran is alarming and the situation is critical in some 40 cities. According to Principle 30 of the Iranian Constitution, “The government is obliged to provide free elementary and high school education for all members of the nation and facilitate free higher education for all until the country is self-sufficient.”