Kar Mehrangiz

Mehrangiz Kar, a human rights lawyer from Iran, is an internationally recognized writer, speaker and activist who advocates for the defense of women’s and human rights in Iran and throughout the Islamic world. Kar also serves as a visiting professor at the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women at Brown University. The themes of her writings and presentations to audiences in North America and Europe consistently emphasize topics of women’s and democratic legal rights in Iran. She actively works to promote academic freedom and to defend the human rights of scholars worldwide.

Professor Kar has written a memoir, numerous articles in both Farsi and English, and over fifteen books. Selected publications include: Women’s Participation in Politics: Obstacles and Possibilities (2001); The Burned Palms (2001); Violence Against Women in Iran (2000); and Women’s Political Rights in Iran (1997).

Women in Iran After the 1979 Islamic Revolution

They accept that Iranian women, Iranian female, they work as assistant of judges. But the final verdict could not be signed by women. This was something that they did do that and I cannot say that Iranian female now they can be judges but it is something better than the beginning of revolution. And now we do have many Iranian female in the judiciary system …in the courts of Iran. …They could understand that okay the society is very, very unhappy. And in the university, I don’t know why, female, they’re very interested, after Islamic revolution they were more interested to go to Law School. It was something, it was a very important phenomenon after Islamic republic and now we do have a big part of educated women who, you know, are educated in law. So they can be a lawyer and they can be judge but not judge with very particular definition. They cannot sign the final verdict. They can do everything but they cannot sign the final verdict. Sometimes they write all verdict but a man who is judge should sign that. Without that it’s not valid.


The Conditions of Freedom

Okay, every freedom is accepted and respected in this constitution. Why do you say there is not any kind of democracy?” But we need to study very deep, this constitution. It’s not easy. When you study and read the chapter three of this constitution you can understand that okay the freedom of speech, the freedom of gathering, protesting peacefully and something like that, all are allowed. …But all freedoms that you can find in this constitution is conditional. The condition is if you want to have gathering and, and protest something, if you don’t have weapon and if the major thing in this gathering is not against principle of Islam, it is allowed. So now Iranian women, who had been in demonstration sometimes during Ahmadinejad, they have no weapons. But they were accused as somebody who were working against principles of Islam. Why? Because they believe equality between men and women is a very basic principle of Islam. So when you are gathering on the street and protest against discriminatory law it means that you, your gathering is in contradiction of Islamic principles. So when they are going to defend their democracy in international community they document these articles and they say, “Okay, we do have everything.” The people are allowed to write, talk, having gathering and protesting and everything. But we know that they cannot because by the condition of principles of Islam. Who is on power, they can use their interpretation of Islam and suppress those activities.


The Importance of an Uncensored History

They give the student a history that is not true. And because of the censorship, if I write my memoirs it would be published outside Iran. And outside Iran we cannot find a very powerful publisher and we cannot send that legally to Iran. …And if we’re remove from the stage, nobody will know what happened with us and what kind of events we were facing with that. And this is, this is my goal and I would like to talk about my generation experiences in this Islamic revolution and after that in the Islamic government and after that, during war, during nuclear crisis. And now that it seems Iran is getting power, but I’m not sure that this power could be helpful for the people of Iran.