by: Siavash Khodaie
Sunday 14 December 2008
Translated by: Sussan Tahmasebi
I have a friend whose opinions could be classified as seriously anti-woman and in support of the current laws. I should also mention despite his opinions in this respect he remains as one of my best friends. His ideas about women have never had much impact on our friendship. Given his opinions with respect to women, naturally, I had not been able to get him to sign the petition of the Campaign. A few days ago, this friend contacted me, telling me that he is more than willing to sign the petition, and even introduce other potential supporters to me! I was taken aback and shocked. I set up a time to meet with him and to discuss his sudden change of heart.
From what I could notice, he was not in a good emotional state and wasn’t very willing to engage in a discussion. I steadfastly believe that when people don’t understand the laws, and their impact on social conditions in the country, their signature on the petition of the Campaign is not of value. As such, I decided to discuss our demands with him and after making sure that he was truly in agreement with the demands of the Campaign, I would allow him to add his signature to the petition. After signing, he volunteered to introduce others to me, whom I could speak to about our effort.
I visited with him for a while and finally asked why he had decided to change his mind in this way. First he was reluctant to provide me with an explanation, but after a while he told me about a recent experience he had at work. He explained that in his place of work, he had the opportunity to witness first hand the negative impact of these laws on the lives of people, and also came to realize that reality was very different than he had perceived it to be.
My friend works in a computer company, where he has two female colleagues and a male boss. One of his female colleagues, who also happens to be his friend and neighbor, had received a very unethical offer from the boss. The boss had offered her money to enter into a temporary marriage (sighe) with him! The interesting thing was the boss had a wife and two children. The female colleague refused the offer and as a result of this development, she made a decision to quit her job within a month’s time, so that she could collect her wages before quitting. But after a few days my friend along with his female colleague, were accused of having "questionable" relations with one another, because they rode into work together in the same car. They were both fired from their jobs!
Anyhow, it seems that the boss was not only ashamed of his actions, but he felt justified to take revenge in this way. As it turned out the situation got very complicated, but suffice to say that my friend was upset about the fact that the law not only failed to protect the rights of his female colleague, but it allowed the boss to approach his employee with an unorthodox—an act which was seen as completely appropriate and within the law. But the simple friendship enjoyed between two colleagues and neighbors, was viewed as illegal.
After hearing this story, all I could do was to be sympathetic and express my sorrow at the developments. There wasn’t much else that I could say. This was another example, however small, of the many injustices carried out in the country, in the name of the law—especially injustices against women.