‘Like Making An Arsonist Into The Town Fire Chief’: UN Elects Iran To Commission On Women’s Rights

(Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images)

Varun Hukeri General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) elected Iran to a four-year term on its Commission on the Status of Women, the watchdog group UN Watch first reported Wednesday.

The Commission serves as the “principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.” Iran’s election to the Commission, which took place in secret balloting, has sparked outrage among human rights and women’s activists.

“Electing the Islamic Republic of Iran to protect women’s rights is like making an arsonist into the town fire chief,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer in a statement. “It’s absurd — and morally reprehensible. This is a black day for women’s rights, and for all human rights.”

“This is surreal,” Iranian women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad tweeted Wednesday. “A regime that treats women as second class citizens, jails them for not wearing the compulsory hijab, bans them from singing, bars them from stadiums and doesn’t let them travel abroad without the permission of their husbands gets elected to the UN’s top women’s rights body.”

A December 2019 report from the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security ranked Iran 118th in the world for women’s equality.

Iranian women commonly face discrimination on issues including marriage, inheritance and child custody, according to Human Rights Watch. The government also targeted or arrested women for speaking out in favor of women’s rights. (RELATED: More And More Iranian Women Are Openly Defying Headscarf Rules)

Gender-based violence against women is also common in Iran and across the Middle East, according to Amnesty International. Issues like domestic violence, marital rape and honor killings remain widespread and often ignored by Iranian authorities.

UN Watch reported Thursday that Iran earned an estimated 43 votes to become a member of the Commission, which are sometimes considered rubber stamp nominations arranged behind closed doors. The group also estimated at least four of the 15 Western democracies on ECOSOC voted for Iran.