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Iranian Widows Suffer Disproportionate Hardships: Minister

Iranian women brandish banners calling for the improvement of women's rights during a protest in Tehran. File photo.

“Most widows in Iran are forced to hide their widowhood since some of the men’s approach towards them is immoral and abusive” says Iran’s Minister of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare.

Ali Rabiei, commemorating June 23 the International Widows Day in his Telegram channel said, “Sadly, such approaches, as a rule, have exacerbated widows’ suffering and forced them into a harrowing life,” reported Iran Students News Agency, ISNA.

International Widows Day is a United Nations ratified day of action to address the “poverty and injustice faced by millions of widows and their dependents in many countries”. The day takes place annually on 23 June.

“Women, in different societies, are facing various challenges including poverty and deprivation while Iranian women are suffering from some specific marginal ordeals, as well,” Rabeie insists.

Referring to his own unfinished study in 2010, the minister maintains, “According to the primary data, based on interviews, the widows in Iran are suffering from insecurity twice as much other members of society.”

Although many Iranian women’s rights activists have already talked about the plight of Iranian widows, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s officials quite rarely raise such topics, let alone highlighting them.

The approach toward widows and divorced women in Iran, as a rule, is not a positive one. Many Iranian men and even some of the women easily accuse widows of immoral behavior and intentions.

Iranian widows high degree of insecurity, according to Ali Rabiei is rooted in the country’s ‘social structure’ and tackling the problem needs creating jobs and providing a secure, easy and peaceful life for the widows.

Widows will only be seriously respected when the society celebrates their important and fundamental role in family life, managing the household and nurturing children, Rabiei asserts.

In commemorating the Widows International Day, Rabiei has also called for preparing the grounds to provide a comfortable life for widows in the large cities.

“Providing single parents family management counseling services” and “planning for increasing security factors” are among proposals mentioned by the minister for improving widows condition in Iran.

Meanwhile, Rabiei has also supported plans for creating proper situation where single women will be allowed to adopt children.

Widows are women whose husbands have passed away. There are currently 256 million widows living around the world.

In 2011, Entekhab website quoted an MP, Alireza Abbaspour as saying, “There are six million widows living in Iran.”

“Absent in statistics, unnoticed by researchers, neglected by national and local authorities and mostly overlooked by civil society organizations – the situation of widows is dramatic and, in effect, invisible,” maintains a UN report.

Furthermore, according to the UN report, “Once widowed, women in many countries often confront a denial of inheritance and land rights, degrading and life-threatening mourning and burial rites and other forms of widow abuse. Even in countries where legal protection is more inclusive, widows can suffer social marginalization.”

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