Promotion of feminism was equated by Iran’s Deputy of Women’s Social and Cultural Council, with a call to murder of babies.

Mehrangiz Rouhafza

Mehrangiz Rouhafza

This week Mehrangiz Rouhafza was quoted as saying: “Those who promote feminism are advocating the cause of pro-abortion groups which in other words is a promotion of the deliberate murder of babies.”

Taraneh Alidoosti, Iranian actress who was in Cannes for the screening of her film, Asghar Farhadi’s Salesman inadvertently revealed a tattoo of the feminist logo on her arm during a press conference.

The photo of Alidoosti with the revealed tattoo appeared in the media coverage of the event in Iran and amid controversy, some comments had been circulated that the photo was tampered with to place the tattoo on Alidoosti’s arm.

Taraneh Alidoosti and a tattoo of the feminist logo on her arm

Taraneh Alidoosti and a tattoo of the feminist logo on her arm

Alidoosti however followed the rumours with a firm confirmation in social media that she is in fact a feminist and reposting an Instagram entry she had posted last year in relation to feminism.

While the Instagram message does not make any reference to abortion, Rouhafza connects the debate to abortion and has called on the judiciary to pursue the matter. “Those who promote inhumane and anti-religious actions should not be allowed to infiltrate our culture.”

Rouhafza claims: “This group, for which an actress has expressed support, promotes the kind of abortion that is nothing less than mass murder of babies for irresponsible mothers to engage in worldly pleasures.” She adds that abortion in Iran is only allowed if there are medical complications endangering the life of the mother or the baby.
She refers to legal and religious restrictions on abortion and goes on to say: “Abortion is detrimental to women health and causes depression.”

Rouhafza also dismisses any claims to freedom of expression for Alidoosti, saying such forms of display are more akin to propaganda rather than self expression.

“We have liberal and specialized scientific forums where individuals can make their opinions heard but this form of display is more like advertisement or propaganda. Where in the world is it acceptable for a baby to die so that the mother can attend to her pleasures?” the Women’s Social and Cultural Council representative was quoted as saying.

Women’s Social and Cultural Council was established in July of 1988 aimed at coordination of policymaking in women’s social and cultural issues in the Islamic Republic. One of the top decisions of this council was to propose the bill to allow police enforcement of Islamic dress code in public, specifically for women to cover their hair and wear loose clothing (hijab).

Independent women’s rights groups have long been challenging the compulsory hijab which the police enforces in recurrent waves of detention and arrest of women deemed to be noncompliant.

Meanwhile the appearance of Iranian actresses in international festivals and their media coverage often becomes controversial over issues of appearance and clothing or their interaction with men which conservative figures and groups in Iran often find in violation of Islamic values.