Tuesday, 2 February 2016
Atena Farghadani is simply the first, but certainly not the last casualty of Iran’s goal to double its population through the systematic repression of its women: The story of jailed 28-year old Iranian artist Atena Farghadani exposed an otherwise-unaware world to a planned feat of social engineering in Iran whose ambition is only matched by its malevolence.
Encouraged by the interest we received in yesterday’s issue of our highlighting Farghadani’s 12-year prison sentence over her drawing of this cartoon depicting the Iranian legislature as animals, we’ve taken another look both at her story and at the legislation she was critiquing, and the results are disturbing, to say the least. Setting aside that Farghadani was subjected to a virginity test for the indecent “crime” of shaking her male lawyer’s hand, her larger struggle to expose the quiet dismantling of all the gains Iran’s women made through the country’s family planning program is a tragedy of an individual being destroyed by the system.
The story began with former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calling for an end to Iran’s family planning program as early as 2006, calling instead to double the country’s population. These calls were eventually taken quite seriously by others in the Iranian leadership, with Ayatollah Khamenei declaring in 2014: “We are not a country of 75 mn, we have the capacity to become at least 150 mn people, if not more.”
With that, the wheels were set in motion for the passing of a set of complementary bills: the Bill to Increase Fertility Rates and Prevent Population Decline (Bill 446), and the Comprehensive Population and Exaltation of Family Bill (Bill 315), both of which Atena targeted with her cartoon. Both pieces of legislation have now already been passed in principle, with the Iranian legislature hammering out the details of their incredibly costly implementation.
What do the pieces of legislation entail? Bill 446 has already partially come into effect, resulting in the complete defunding of Iran’s family planning program. Bill 315, however, delivers the death blow to Iran’s women. Among the bill’s provisions, according to Amnesty International (pdf):
The goal of doubling the Iranian population is seen by their leadership as a key element in their geopolitical strategy for establishing regional domination, as explained in the following reading in the UK’s Foreign Affairs Review by Holly Fathi. (Read Iran’s Population Machine)
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