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Sexual apartheid has to be a thing of the past

No Hejab No. 1
Maryam Namazie

When you think about apartheid, you can’t help but remember the anti-apartheid movement of the 70s and 80s. At the time, there was hardly anyone who lived in the West and hadn’t joined a demonstration or sit-in, signed a petition, written a letter of protest, worn an anti-apartheid badge and so on. During that time, the anti-apartheid movement became the struggle or at least issue of concern for most every decent human being. And you didn’t have to be black or South African. The movement went beyond all those constructed divisions amongst people and went to the heart of being human. As a result of the movement, everyone had come to know that apartheid was fundamentally wrong and that something had to be done. Eventually, apartheid became despised and condemned. But it was not always so.

Racial apartheid was supported for years by Western governments. It was justified and excused whether by ‘scientists’ who could ‘prove’ that black people had smaller brains to organisations that said separate was still equal.

It was the South African liberation movement and solidarity groups in the West that fought long and hard to expose Apartheid and chip away at its justifications in order to remove all the layers of propaganda and excuses, revealing Apartheid – naked and bare, as it truly was – an intolerable inhumanity.

Today, the same must be done with the apartheid of the 21st century – sexual apartheid, and particularly in Iran as a pillar of political Islam. Just as a mass movement said no to racial Apartheid, so it must say no to the Hejab and segregation of women; no to the prevention of the mixing of the sexes; no to discrimination, no to women being deemed inferior, second class citizens and even sub-humans…

On the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and Equal Rights Now-Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran are proclaiming 2008 as the year against sexual apartheid. We are asking people everywhere to condemn sexual apartheid and the political Islamic movement that perpetrates it, and to support egalitarian movements that courageously challenge it.

We invite all to sign the below declaration and call for an end to sexual apartheid.

Declaration

We, the undersigned, unequivocally oppose sexual apartheid and the subjugation of millions of women living under Islamic rules and laws.

We condemn regimes and the political Islamic movement that perpetrate sexual apartheid, including in Iran.

We support the legitimate struggle of millions of women and men for freedom, equality and universal rights.

Sexual apartheid, like racial apartheid, has no place in the 21 century.

Signed:

– Mina Ahadi; Spokesperson of Equal Rights Now; Coordinator of the International Committee against Stoning; Spokesperson of the Council of Ex-Muslims in Germany, Germany
– Mahin Alipour; Coordinator of Equal Rights Now; Coordinator of the International
Campaign in Defense of Women’s Rights, Sweden
– Maryam Namazie; Spokesperson of Equal Rights Now; Producer of TV International English; Spokesperson of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, UK

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