Shirin Ebadi to speak in Detroit
By Gregg Krupa
The Detroit News
Thursday, May 6, 2004
GROSSE POINTE PARK - When she gives her first public speech in the United States since winning the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize before the Detroit Economic Club tonight, Shirin Ebadi will not mince words. She rarely does.
Years in Iranian prisons and two assassination attempts have sharpened her message about democracy and human rights.
Democracy is the highest level of thinking, from U.S., Ebadi says. http://www.detnews.com/2004/metro/0405/06/d01-144574.htm
This is an excerpt.
TV Series with Polygamy Plot Angers Iranian Women
Thu May 6, 2004
By Parinoosh Arami
TEHRAN (Reuters) - An Iranian television series in which a woman introduces a friend to her husband for marriage has outraged female activists in the Islamic state who say it encourages polygamy and reinforces prejudice against women.
Protest gatherings and editorials in feminist publications have singled out the "Another Woman" mini series, whose run on state monopoly IRIB ended last month, as a prime example of the broadcaster's negative portrayal of women.
"Promoting polygamy in television programs is a big insult to women here," reformist parliamentarian Akbar Mosavarimanesh told Reuters.
Men in Iran, where Islamic law has been in force since 1979, can marry up to four permanent wives and as many "temporary wives" -- via religious contracts lasting as little as a few hours to several years -- as they wish.
Women, in contrast, require their husband's permission to work or travel abroad and enjoy far weaker divorce and custody rights than men.
But in a country where female graduates now outnumber men and many women run their own businesses and occupy senior management positions, female activists say practices like polygamy are outdated and should not be encouraged.
"Such measures aim to wreck attempts to further improve women's role in society," Mosavarimanesh said.
There are no official statistics on polygamy in Iran but sociologists say it is more common in small cities and rural areas where divorce and the discussion of marital problems outside the family are frowned upon.
Newly elected conservative parliamentarian Fatemeh Alia said polygamy can preserve family unity and helps ensure fewer women end up alone with no one to support them.
POLYGAMY NOT JUST FOR FUN
IRIB's steady diet of religious programing and tame dramas has been criticized by reformist officials for failing to attract young viewers who turn instead to foreign satellite programs and Western films on DVD which, although illegal, are readily available.
In "Another Woman," a woman who thinks she cannot bear children and also knows she is dying from cancer persuades her husband to marry her friend so he can have a child.
Leading female activist Marzieh Mortazi-Langhroudi said such plots were common and could influence some viewers' thinking.
"Women in cities may look at it as just a movie and laugh, but in some remote places couples think it is possible for them to solve their marital problems through polygamy," she said.
Writer Mehri Suvizi agreed. "There is a strong tendency in many television programs to promote temporary marriage and to prepare the conditions for society to accept second wives and polygamy," she wrote in the latest edition of her monthly magazine, Eastern Woman.
"Such programs ...threaten family foundations," she said. http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=worldNews&storyID=5058231