The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is seared into our memory by the example of the “Unforgettable Butterflies,” three brave sisters from the Dominican Republic burnt in the fire of dictatorship.
A group of women's rights activists inside Iran has taken this day as an opportunity to raise the alarm about violence in Iran: not just violence against women, but also the whole spectrum of patriarchal violence, from homes to the wider society, from Iran to the entire world.
They voice their concern for their sisters in Iran whose fate resembles those of the Dominican Republic. Many women who are truly butterflies of peace, freedom and equality in Iran have perished at the hands of the patriarchal violence of the state. Their fate testifies to the fact that patriarchal violence on the domestic and legal levels replicates and spreads itself across the greater social and political expanse.
Wary of the current political and social scene, riven as it is by discord and polarization, these women's activists seek the responsibility of transcending these fractures. Collaborating together, they warn that bigger issues are at hand. They warn us of crises of poverty, corruption, addiction, and unemployment, crises they believe result from the vicious cycle of violence in society.
These activists declare that the cycle of violence has many alarming social consequences, threatening the wellbeing and dignity of everybody in Iran, especially women and the young. They therefore call on governments to acknowledge as the utmost priority the urgency of taking steps toward eliminating violence, and to take action accordingly.
Like many women in Iran, these activists are deeply familiar with the effects of gender discrimination and segregation and the resulting way in which women are deprived of the opportunity to realize their potential. Pointing to the effects of gendered segregation in Iran, these activists demonstrate how the isolation and separation of our country from the global community leads to violence-inducing policies of “isolation and separation” instead of peace-making policies of “interaction and dialogue.”
These activists are concerned about a future threatened by international violence. Having experienced the bitter and ruinous consequences of violence and war, inequality, and ethnic, ideological and political conflicts in Iran, these messengers of peace call upon the people of Iran, the government, and the international community to avoid conflict and violence, and to bring about dialogue based on human rights, mutual respect, and democratic values within the framework of national welfare.
In taking steps towards eliminating violence, these activists acknowledge the following as necessary conditions for eliminating violence and creating a peaceful environment for people: accepting the international conventions on human rights and peace; enabling a safe environment in which activists and leaders of contemporary civil rights and sociopolitical movements may carry on their work; releasing all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Iran; providing basic guarantees of security so that social activism can flourish openly; and employing tolerant and peaceful approaches to dealings at the national and international levels.
The clear and resounding voice of these Iranian women's activists rises up against violence, refusing its spread from home to society, from Iran to the world. As such it stands in solidarity with the voice of many Iranian women, sharing this concern wherever they may be around the world.
May this collective voice be the force that breaks the vicious cycle of war and socio-political violence at home and internationally.
May our names, names of Iranian women and men gathered side by side, united and transcending geopolitical borders as we sign this international call, become a sign of international solidarity against violence and war.