The online magazine A Voice for Men opened its Farsi version yesterday on July 28th, as announced in the news.
Farsi is the mother tongue of 110,000,000 people approximately, and is the 7th most important language in the world in terms of official languages. AVFM Farsi will focus on men’s issues mainly in Iran, and also will serve as a stage to break the wall of censorship, distortion and filtering of the news from the Middle East.
While the media has no problem portraying Middle Eastern women as oppressed, often by means of distorted stories, compared to western women, it is somehow not seen that considering geographic, religious and ideological position of each Middle Eastern country, women of these cultures are treated with great leniency relative to men.
Some of the discriminative policies that Iranian men are subjected to include the following:
- Allocation of the salary of a deceased husband to his wife and daughters for life, daughters can also add to their income the salary of a deceased mother. Sons do not receive a deceased parent’s salary (let alone husbands).
- Mandate of paying Mehrieh, Nafaqa, etc. to wives by husbands.
- Free (paid by men) medical insurance for women only.
- Forced conscription of all males which mandates them to serve in the military and any excessively difficult job for two years, almost for free. In the time of war, all men can be summoned to fight by force.
- Welfare for women.
One would think that these laws should be for a country where women are barred from working (if such country exists); not a country that is 5th among 190 countries in having the highest female to male ratio of rate of employment. There is a case to be made for discrimination against men in employment in Iran.
Feminist hypocrisy might be best visible in a new trend that has gained momentum in recent years in Iran, which is known informally as Islamic feminism. Where the Islamic laws favor women at the expense of men, such as the laws on Mehrieh and Nafaqa, Islamic feminism sides with the Islamic parts, and in other cases it is plain old feminism.
Best example is that every time they have been offered the idea of equal rights to divorce in return for dissipation of Mehrieh, they have turned it down. Although Women’s Fraction of the Parliament has always been a source of power for Islamic feminism and women in general, since 2007, the Women’s Ministry, has received increasingly more funds from the government, up to the level that this ministry was on the verge of having the government legislate a law that aside from its own funding, forces all other ministries to allocate 2% of their overall funding to their women’s centers.
While the discriminative policies pointed out above date back far before the existence of Islamic feminism, (and in fact, far before the second wave of feminism) this new brand of feminism brought with it even more discriminatory laws including the following:
- Having banks give out loans for opening up business to women who merely claim to have bad providers. “Bad provider” means a father or a husband who is not rich enough to be able to pay a reasonable amount of Nafaqa to his wife/daughter. This loan is in addition to loans generally for starting business and is based solely on gender.
- Housewife insurance.
- The right for women over 30 to adopt children. When feminists brought this law, they also banned men from having the same right. Perhaps the idea is that men are pedophiles?
Furthermore, 82 new laws are on the verge of being passed in Iran, all regarding violence against women, and women only.
When all is said and done, there’s little to no doubt that an AVFM chapter in Farsi focused on Middle East is badly needed. The wall of censorship, manipulation and lies on the topic of gender in the Middle East will have to fall. And it starts with AVFM Farsi.
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