Senate debates

Wednesday, 28 September 2022


Iran: Women

7:25 pm

Photo of Claire ChandlerClaire Chandler (Tasmania, Liberal Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to pay tribute this evening to Mahsa Amini and to recognise the incredible bravery of the women of Iran, who are right now fighting back against decades of oppression against them because of their sex. Mahsa was just 22 years old when she died earlier this month following a violent arrest by Iran's so-called morality police. Her crime: not covering her hair in the way that the men who rule Iran demand that all women must. For this, she lost her life. The violence perpetrated against Mahsa by the Iranian regime had one purpose: to intimidate Iranian women into compliance; to show them that, should they fail to dress as they are told, they can be arrested, beaten and even killed. But Iranian women are refusing to be intimidated. In spite of the danger they face, they have shown enormous courage by protesting Mahsa's death. They have taken off the hijab that symbolises their oppression and burned it in the streets. They have taken to social media and cut off their hair to show the world that they won't be intimidated. The Iranian regime has responded as authoritarian dictatorships invariably respond. Dozens of Iranians, including many more women, have been killed while participating in protests. The government has shut down social media and internet access in an attempt to hide its oppression of its citizens from the world.

Surely, the very least the international community can do in support of the women of Iran is refuse to legitimise Iran's barbaric treatment of women. So why then does Iran remain a member of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women? How is it possible that the international community allows such status to a regime that denies women the right to show their hair and face in public?

How galling it was to see the President of Iran addressing the United Nations General Assembly last week while his citizens died on the streets because they dared to protest the killing of a 22-year-old woman. Leaders from every nation, including our own, spent last week at the UN in New York. Many speeches were made, many photos were taken yet still Iran remains a member of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, providing cover and a veil of legitimacy for its oppression of women and girls. What have governments done to correct this abhorrent situation? What has our own government done? For as long as Iran remains on the UN Commission on the Status of Women, that commission can have no credibility.

It is no wonder people have so little time for the machinations and posturing of the United Nations. Human rights abusers sit on the Human Rights Council. Countries where women have no rights lecture us about the status of our women. Russia sits on the Security Council while it causes the biggest threat to global security we have seen in decades. Of course Australia should work with like-minded international partners in the interest of peace, security and human rights, but we should not stand by and allow charades like Iran sitting on the UN Commission on the Status of Women without kicking up a fuss. Australia should take a lead role in working with other nations towards Iran's removal from the commission. It is inconceivable that we could stay quiet and share membership of this commission with Iran while Iranian women are not only risking their lives but losing their lives to stand up to their oppressor.


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