Widows in Iran are long-suffering, stuck in the shadows of their deceased husbands, with the former UN Secretary-General saying that the status of widows in the country is linked to their husbands, leaving them isolated and shunned, with marriage the only way for her to “regain her footing in society”.
The current UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said in 2020: “The death of a partner at any time can leave many women without rights to inheritance or property. In times of a pandemic, these losses are often multiplied for widows and accompanied by stigma and discrimination. The unprecedented levels of isolation and economic hardship brought on by the COVID-19 crisis can further compromise widows’ ability to support themselves and their families, cutting them off from social connection at a time of profound grief.”
Of course, the problems for widows under the mullahs’ regime are much worse because there are a number of discriminatory laws that deny social support and protection to widows, despite the United Nations’ goals over the past four decades.
One of the biggest issues for Iranian widows is that they don’t have a lot of financial independence because they often have trouble finding suitable employment and often work long hours in conditions akin to sweatshops for little money. As women’s rights are not respected under the mullahs’ judicial system, these widows cannot complain about conditions because they fear being sacked.
Due to poverty, many widows are forced to become sex workers or beg on the streets.
Many of these women are abused by men who take advantage of the situation by asking for temporary marriage, which is a cover for sexual assault.
So, how big a problem is it? Well, as with most things that the regime tries to hide, there’s differing statistics about how many widows are in Iran:
- 2020: The Statistics Center reported 5.1 million widows or divorced women
- 2018: MP Masoumeh Aghapour Alishahi said there were 24,000 widows under age 18
- 2017: Tehran City Council member Shahrbanoo Emami said that there were 15,000 widows under 15
- 2011: The state-run Shargh newspaper said the figure for widows of all ages is six million
Of course, while the financial situation is awful for widows, many of them suffer from a variety of physical and mental ailments, including heart issues, diabetes, and severe headaches. This is not surprising because financial deprivation is linked with health problems.
The Iranian Resistance wrote: “The regime has never aimed to facilitate women’s employment or remove obstacles to women’s social and political participation, nor will it. Instead, its propaganda clearly exposes it as a one-sided and irresponsible preacher that advocates for early marriage and childbearing. With its rich cultural diversity, the only way for Iran to save its widows is to resolve the problem at its source: remove the misogynistic mullahs’ regime.”