Sexual Apartheid is the outrage of our century. In Iran , Iraq , Afghanistan , and countries ruled by Islamic laws, millions of women and girls are segregated, degraded and relegated to second class citizenship. Keeping women and girls separate and unequal are important pillars of Islamic rule, affecting every aspect of people's lives. Just as a mass movement rejected Racial Apartheid in South Africa , so too must it reject segregation based on sex in Iran and everywhere.
8 March 2009 will be the 30th anniversary of the mass demonstrations against veiling and sexual apartheid that took place in Iran after Khomeini proclaimed the day before that women were to be veiled in workplaces. The protests were suppressed and the Islamic regime in Iran went on to impose compulsory veiling for girls and women and segregate the society at large.
The women's liberation movement in Iran , however, continued to mobilise and grow in strength and numbers. Today, it is a resolute movement against sexual apartheid and discrimination against women and for freedom and equality.
Equal Rights Now - Organisation against Women's Discrimination in Iran is calling on people everywhere to pay tribute to this movement by recognising 8 March (International Women's Day) as the International Day against Sexual Apartheid.
We also call on individuals, unions, parties and organisations to condemn sexual apartheid and the political Islamic movement that perpetrates it by continuing to sign on to the below declaration.
Declaration against sexual apartheid
We, the undersigned, unequivocally oppose sexual apartheid and the subjugation of millions of women living under Islamic rules and laws.
We condemn regimes and the political Islamic movement that perpetrate sexual apartheid, including in Iran .
We support the legitimate struggle of millions of women and men for freedom, equality and universal rights.
Sexual apartheid, like racial apartheid, has no place in the 21 century.
This declaration has already been signed by: Norm R. Allen Jr., Executive Director, African Americans for Humanism, USA; Ophelia Benson, Editor, Butterflies and Wheels, USA; - Shahnaz Bokhari, Chairperson, Progressive Women's Association, Pakistan; Pamela Bone, Journalist and Author, Australia; A. C. Grayling, Author and Philosopher, UK; Maria Hagberg, founder of organisation against honour killings, Sweden; Hope Knuttson, President, Sidmennt, the Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association, Iceland; David Pollock, President of the European Humanist Federation, UK; Terry Sanderson, President, National Secular Society, UK; Michael Schmidt-Salomon, philosopher; CEO of Giordano Bruno Foundation, Germany; Joan Smith, Novelist, Columnist and Human Rights Activist, UK; and Peter Tatchell, Human Rights Campaigner, UK.