Rage against the veil: The speech of Parvin Darabi president, Homa Darabi Foundation

Rage against the veil: The speech of Parvin Darabi president, Homa Darabi Foundation

They differed with me over what times we are living in.

It is not democracy when a man can talk about politics without anyone threatening him.

Democracy is when a woman can talk of her lover without anyone killing her.

–Dr. Sauad M. Al-Sabah

Good afternoon, it is such a pleasure to be in this historic event, I am just delighted to be here.

I was six days old, I was told, when my paternal grandfather passed on his religion to me and declared me a Muslim girl. As a result I lost all my human rights.

According to Islamic Justice, in the court of law the testimony of two women is equal to that of one man. A woman’s life is worth half of that of a man’s. Women inherit only half as much as their male siblings. A woman cannot divorce, or get custody of her children.

A woman cannot travel, work, go to college, join organizations, visit her friends and relatives without her father or husband’s permission. A woman should dwell where her husband desires.

Islam denies women the educational opportunities by forcing them to marry and have children at ages where their counterparts in civilized societies are still playing with dolls. Muslim Women are banned from competing in the Olympics.

I have come to this gathering from California to speak about my only sister, Dr. Homa Darabi, whose brief life and death scenario may serve as an example for the impact these laws have on women living in Iran and other Islamic countries.

My sister, Homa, in addition to being a doctor of medicine, was an outspoken feminist and a political activist. She also was a naturalized citizen of the United States. In 1990 She was ordered to comply with the strict rules of hijab. She refused. So she was considered an apostate.

My sister was a medical doctor specializing in pediatrics, general psychiatry, and child and adolescent psychiatry, and was licensed to practice medicine in New Jersey, New York, and California.

To help the deprived and poverty stricken Iranian children, she returned to Iran in 1976 and was appointed as a professor at the University of Tehran School of Medicine. She opened her private practice at the same time and very quickly became known all across Iran.

She established the first children’s Psychiatric Clinic in Tehran.

She was one of the strong supporters of the revolution, however, when the democratic revolution turned Islamic, Homa became devastated and totally broke away from all politics. She then devoted her time to her profession as a Medical Doctor and continued her struggles as a women’s right activist.

To shut her up in retaliation, she was first fired from her position as a professor of Medicine at the University of Tehran and was later harassed in her private practice. At age 52, she finally had to close down her practice, and be confined to her home for the first time in her life.

As a prominent psychiatrist, her services were requested by devastated and helpless parents whose daughters were subjected to the flogging and beating for such violations as wearing make up and nylons. They would beg her to go to the courts and declare their daughters as insane to suspend their punishment. To label a perfectly, healthy, sane young woman as insane was not a big issue with the parents. They wanted their daughters unharmed, but it was a moral issue with Homa. She felt she was ruining a young life forever.

A month prior to her death, a sixteen-year old girl was shot to death in Northern Tehran for wearing lipstick. Homa could no longer stand this brutality. She protested the oppression of women by setting herself on fire in Northern Tehran, on February 21, 1994. Her last cries were:

Death to Tyranny!

Long Live Liberty!

Long Live Iran!

For over twenty centuries we, the people, especially women have suffered and endured violence because of God, Allah, or other imaginary beings. It is time to end this cycle of violence and love and respect each other because we are all human, alive and here to enjoy our short stay on this planet. Let’s make the twenty-first century the Godless Century. Let’s remove this divisive issue fragmenting mankind from our minds, our every-day lives and our nation.

Ms. Darabi may be reached at: homa@homa.org

COPYRIGHT 2002 American Atheists Inc.

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