Excuse Me, What Do You Mean By Campaign? Somayyeh Mazloomi

Somsye Mzloomi/translated by Leil Shirnejad irani

Thursday 1 March 2007

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A few nights a go, we went to Tehran University to collect signatures in support of the One Million Signatures Campaign Demanding Changes to Discriminatory Laws. We figured that female University students would be familiar with their rights and laws related to women! I don’t know what we were thinking?!

That night we took a bunch of educational forms and pamphlets and started to knock on the dorm rooms, in an effort to engage in one-on-one discussions with residents. We tried to establish a relationship with the students, so that we could speak frankly and intimately and establish a connection.

We were faced with responses from these girls, which to me seemed very interesting. “Is this really the law? ” “Are you serious?” “Are you sure that the blood money for women is half that of men?” “Yeah, I had heard that men can have several wives!” And…”what does the campaign mean anyway? What is an NGO? Oh right! That organization!”

To make a long story short, we had success in the collection of signatures and managed to collect a good number. But in general the level of awareness among female students in relation to laws governing women’s lives was much less than we expected. While students of law and social studies had a higher level of knowledge, their information was still limited!

There were some hopeful and positive interactions and responses as well. Some explained that “we already signed the petition!” or “Yes, I also think about these matters and I have had questions!” “How can we cooperate with the campaign?” The requests for cooperation and collaboration with the Campaign was indeed the highlight of our night!

There were also some negative feedbacks: “These laws don’t seem discriminatory to me at all. You should not question Islam without due cause!” “Which organization are you representing?” ”What contacts/connections do you have?” or “Honestly I have never thought of these matters!”

And we had some apathetic responses as well. Some wondered ”what’s the point, let’s say we sign, what’s going to change?!” “We won’t get anywhere with this!”

While I understand both the positive and negative reactions, but entering into discussions with people who are hopeless and apathetic is very difficult and to me seems fruitless!

Kathy and I ended the night in exhaustion. But this taste of exhaustion this time was different—it was sweet—because we felt that we were doing something worthwhile. Not simply because we were doing it for the Campaign, but we were taking on this responsibility on behalf of other young women our own age and as a result were afforded the opportunity to inform women who did not know much about these issues. Perhaps our activism will serve as a spark and get to think about these issues and question why they should we be discriminated against?!!


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