Both Iran and China were elected to the United Nations’s Commission on the Status of Women yesterday, the former with 48 and the latter with 43 out of a possible 53 votes. The purpose of the commission is to promote “gender equality and the empowerment of women.”
Here’s an excerpt from Amnesty International’s 2020 report on Iran’s treatment of women:
Women continued to face entrenched discrimination in law, including in relation to marriage, divorce, employment, inheritance and political office. The “morality” police and vigilantes, enforcing the country’s discriminatory and degrading forced veiling laws, continued to subject millions of women and girls to daily harassment and violent attacks amounting to torture and other ill-treatment. Several women’s rights defenders remained in prison for campaigning against forced veiling. The authorities failed to criminalize domestic violence, marital rape, early and forced marriage and other gender-based violence against women and girls, which remained widespread. The legal age of marriage for girls stayed at 13, and fathers and grandfathers could obtain permission from courts for their daughters to be married at a younger age. According to official figures, about 30,000 girls under the age of 14 are married every year. The authorities failed to take steps to end impunity for men who kill their wives or daughters and to ensure accountability proportionate to the severity of these crimes.
Human Rights Watch adds:
A married woman may not obtain a passport or travel outside the country without the written permission of her husband. Under the civil code, a husband is accorded the right to choose the place of living and can prevent his wife from having certain occupations if he deems them against “family values.” Iranian women, unlike men, cannot pass on their nationality to their foreign-born spouses or their children.
Uyghur women held in concentration camps in the People’s Republic of China continue to endure horrors few could conceive of without reading about them. From National Review‘s editorial:
The torture endured by these Uyghur women included rape and torture with electric batons, in addition to other unspeakable acts of sexual violence. At one point, a teacher forced to work in the camps recounts witnessing the gang rape of a 20- or 21-year-old girl perpetrated before an audience of 100 detainees; the authorities subsequently punished anyone with visibly distressed reaction. Such atrocities aren’t the work of individual sadists, but are deliberate and systematic, as dictated by China’s foul totalitarian regime and Communist Party general secretary Xi Jinping.
State-imposed sexual terror is not limited to the millions held in camps:
The BBC report shows how rape is wielded in the camps as a weapon against the Uyghurs as a people. It’s also been used in Uyghur homes, where under a Party program, Han Chinese men are sent to live with and share the beds of women whose husbands have been detained. And in June, it was revealed that the Party is engaged in a systematic campaign to forcibly sterilize Uyghur women and abort their pregnancies.
United States ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield has yet to condemn, or even comment on the election of either of these states to the commission. One hopes that she will do so eventually with the moral clarity it demands, rather than the uncompassionate humility with which she has approached her job so far.