Media Op-Ed

Women Magazine, “Zanan” Shut-Down: Iran

Written by OIAC

By OIAC- It was reported that Iran’s only women’s magazine, Zanan-e Emrouz, or Today’s Women, had been shut down on Monday, by the regime’s Press Advisory Board after publishing only 15 issues since being permitted to return to print last year. The forced closure stemmed from the magazine’s publication of a series of stories about unmarried cohabitation, which the regime calls “white marriage.”

 

Although a number of other newspapers and magazines had also published stories about this social phenomenon, Zanan-e Emrouz was singled out as supposedly justifying and encouraging the practice, and thus contributing to what the regime considers to be immorality. The only obvious different between the offending stories and those of other news sources is that they appeared in what was Iran’s only women’s interest magazine.

 

On Tuesday, IranWire sought reactions to the closure from female Iranian politicians, namely members of parliament who are part of the “women’s faction.” The news site quoted three such MPs as saying that they had either never heard of Zanan-e Emrouz or had heard the name but had never read it. None of the three female politicians had heard the news of the magazine’s closure. Even so, one of them, Laleh Eftekhari was quick to defend the government’s actions, saying “Look, if this magazine has committed an offense, then it must be shut down. They would not shut it down without a reason.”

 

The magazine’s predecessor, Zanan, had been a target for Iranian hardliners since it began publishing in 1991 and was accused of promoting feminism. It was finally shuttered in 2007. The short life of the revived magazine reflects a major ongoing crackdown on women’s rights, which has also been characterized by expanded enforcement of bans on co-mingling of men and women, as well as efforts to empower civilian militias to confront women for being improperly veiled.

 

IranWire also reported on Tuesday that the latest effort to constrain supposedly immoral feminine behavior takes the form of a bill introduced by one Tehran member of parliament that would ban women from receiving tattoos and would put strict restrictions on “hygienic services” including hair removal.

 

In an interview with Etemad newspaper, MP Seyed Morteza Hosseini protested that hairdressers offering such services were promoting Western culture. “This practices is not worthy of the Iranian nation,” he said.

 

The IranWire interviews with female MPs arguably demonstrate why these measures are able to be raised, popularized, and passed: notwithstanding the presence of a “women’s faction” there is a lack of actual representation of women in the Iranian parliament. Persons who run for high office in Iran are traditionally vetted by the Guardian Council, thus precluding persons with progressive gender views from reaching parliament.

 

And even to the extent that female MPs are interested in women’s rights issues, the government keeps them in the dark about current events that are relevant to those issues. Two of the female MPs interviewed by IranWire indicated that the government sends them various publications, but that Zanan-e Emrouz was never among them.

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