A group of women's rights activists in Iran and worldwide has written an open letter to the United Nations opposing the Iranian government's bid for membership on the UN's Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.
The letter refers to Iranian laws that gender-equality groups say discriminate against women. These include statutes relating to such matters as divorce, child custody, education, and the ability to choose a husband.
Women have been "arrested, beaten, and imprisoned for peacefully seeking change of such laws," the letter says. "The Iranian government will certainly use [CSW membership] to curtail the progress and advancement of women."
Radio Farda spoke to Shadi Sadr, a women's rights activist and one of the letter's signatories. Sadr explained that for years the UN has asked Iran to sign the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Iran, however, has refused to do so.
"Under such conditions, Iran's attempt to join such an institution [as the CSW] is doomed to fail," Sadr said.
Iran announced its candidacy for membership in the commission after it withdrew from its bid for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council last week.
The UN describes the commission as being dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women.