Life

"My wife! You are free” Iranian men unite on social media in drive for gender equality

Posted by
Harriet Hall
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Iranian husbands are taking a stand on social media against the sexism ingrained within the country’s marriage laws.

When a man and a woman marry in Iran, the marriage contract states that the husband has the final say on whether his wife can work, travel abroad, where the couple will live and if she is allowed to file for a divorce – but husbands also have the right to decide if they’d like to waive the contracts.

In a show of support, thousands are taking to Facebook to post photographs in which they are holding up statements declaring their commitment to gender equality.

The images are being posted on the Facebook page, 

My Stealthy Freedom, which was created last year by Iranian journalist, Masih Alinejad, with the aim to back women’s rights in Iran. 

The page encouraged women to post in photographs of themselves taking off their hijabs and liberating themselves from restrictive Iranian law.

One post declares:

“My relationship with my wife is not copulation in exchange of dowry, it is marriage meaning two free and equal individuals living and working together to build a prosperous life. Happiness of each spouse depends on happiness of the other half.  The human rights that law had taken away from my wife I returned to her from the beginning.”

Another says:

“I, an iranian man, am ashamed of the article 18 of the passport law, my wife! you are free.”

It all started when Niloufar Ardalan, captain of Iran’s indoor women’s football team, was unable to represent her country in an away match in Malaysia after her husband forbade her.

Ardalan’s husband, sports journalist Mehdi Toutounchi, had said he wanted his wife to appear at their son’s first day of school, instead.

The story shocked the country and men have since begun posting photographs to Alinejad’s page. In total, the images on the page have been shared over 100,000 times. 

Originally, Alinejad had asked men to announce that they would not prevent their partners from travelling abroad, but many men have said that they are returning all rights back to their wives, and some have even posted photographs of amended marriage contracts.

Speaking to BBC Trending, Alinejad says that she is receiving images constantly, and verifies all of them before posting them to the page.

Intending to post two images every day, Alinejad has called the latest campaign “It’s Men’s Turn.”

The journalist says that most men do not know they have the ability to amend the marriage contracts, but that there are “a lot of open-minded Iranian men who support women’s rights,” despite the strict unequal laws imposed by society.