Only Democracy Can Free Women from Slavery
Carlson Endowed Chair in Women’s Studies
Support of Referendum in
for Democracy in
A measure of Islamic fundamentalists’ success in controlling society is the depth and totality with which they suppress the freedom and rights of women.
Earlier this year, with the assistance of Iranian democracy
activists I gathered information about prostitution and the trafficking of
women and girls out of
It is impossible to know how many victims there are, but
all sources indicate an exponential growth in
This criminal activity is often conducted with the knowledge and participation of the ruling mullahs. Government officials themselves are involved in trading and sexually abusing women and girls.
Many of the girls come from impoverished rural areas. Drug
addiction is epidemic throughout
The most popular destinations for victims of trafficking
Police have uncovered a number of prostitution and slavery
rings operating from
In the northeastern Iranian
One factor contributing to the increase in prostitution and the sex slave trade is the number of teen girls who are running away from home. The girls are rebelling against fundamentalist imposed restrictions on their freedom, domestic abuse, and parental drug addictions. Unfortunately, in their flight to freedom, the girls find more abuse and exploitation. Ninety percent of girls who run away from home will end up in prostitution.
In cities, shelters have been set-up to provide assistance for runaways. But there have been documented cases of corrupt officials running these shelters using the girls in their prostitution rings.
Some may think a sex slave trade and clerics acting as
pimps are contradictions in a country founded and ruled by religious
fundamentalists. In fact, these are not such contradictions. First,
exploitation and repression are closely associated with each other and
complement each other. Both exist where women, individually or collectively,
are denied freedom and rights. Second, the Islamic fundamentalists in
Today, the two greatest threats to rights and well being
of women in the world are Islamic fundamentalism and the growing sex trade. The
Since I wrote an article about prostitution and the trade
in women and girls in
The answer is that only freedom and democracy in
Of course, we are here today to commemorate the
pro-democracy student movement that has courageously demonstrated for just
those values and principles. They have heroically stood up to the vicious
Supporting the bold resistance of these women to the mullahs is the only way to defeat the slave traders and the terrorists. Their voices and lives are essential for establishing a post-terrorist democratic society. Their courage, compassion, and intellect will be needed to help lead a country out of slavery, fear, and corruption.
Those of us with freedom of speech and freedom of
association, which are denied to activists in