There’s a Story behind Each Signature
By: Taraneh Amir Teymourian
Friday 19 September 2008
Translated by: Sussan Tahmasebi
Collecting signatures is a sweet experience, so much so that you never want to let go of the signatures you have collected. Every signature has a story and memory attached to it. This is part of my story about collection of signatures—memories from the day Elnaz, Setareh and I went to collect signatures in the common areas of a large complex.
In general people were very receptive toward ours.
When we asked a man and woman who were exercising around the complex, to give us a few minutes so that we could discuss the Campaign with them, they responded by asking: "you mean the One Million Signatures Campaign Demanding Changes to Discriminatory Laws?" They had heard about the Campaign from Simin Behbehani, a well-known and respected poet who has supported the effort. Without even allowing us to explain about the Campaign further, they took the petition from us and signed it.
Many of the people we spoke to asked if the Campaign had a website. They were interested in following news about our effort on the site. We gave them the address of our site: Change for Equality, so they could more information about developments in the Campaign.
There was a mother and her daughter who expressed interest in being invited to seminars related to the Campaign and wanted to become more involved in the effort. Another mother and daughter who we spoke with explained about their own difficulties with the law. The daughter had been trying to get a divorce from her husband for five years, but with no luck. She was very upset about her situation. Both the mother and daughter signed the petition immediately, and said that they wanted to express their objection to laws which don’t value women equally. For this reason, I think approaching mothers and daughters to sign the petition of the Campaign is a good idea.
There was also a group of 7 or 8 women sitting on benches. They were engaged in conversation with one another. We approached them and started telling them about the law, and the discriminations women face because of the law. We told them that the Campaign intended to address these discriminations. All the women agreed that the laws were unjust and were ready to sign the petition. But at this point one of the women among the group, started calling her friends over one by one. She would whisper something to them. Slowly all the women, excused themselves, claiming that they were late and had to be on their way! I think that the woman was afraid to sign the petition, and the potential problems it could cause her and her friends. For this reason, she warned her friends against signing.
My best memory of collecting signatures on that day is of a veiled woman who sold clothes and kitchen wear on the side of the street. It was night, and she was collecting her belongings, to go home. Still, despite the fact that it was late, she was one of the few people who read the statement and the petition of the Campaign with great interest and care. And she signed it.
On the day we went to collect signatures as a group, it seemed that middle aged men were more willing to sign the petition of the Campaign’s petition than their younger counterpart. All the middle aged men we approached signed the petition. One of these men was with his wife, and he explained that: "I always point out to others that women’s rights in our society are neglected." He signed the petition. But there was a young man, who was in the area of the apartment complex with his fiancé. He refused to sign the petition. In fact, he kept telling his fiancé, that: "you are afraid of a mere cat, so how is it that you want to have equal testimony rights in court?" Or he kept saying that: "a man has the right and should maintain the right to divorce his wife at any time." Well his fiancé, decided to sign the petition, despite his protests and the dirty looks he gave her while signing, but he still refused.