Statement by Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML)
On July 6th, a month has passed since Homa Hoodfar's arrest in Iran's Evin prison.
Updates about her case have been published in Canada, Britain, India, Italy Pakistan, USA...
London (07. 07. 16) – In recent days, after the arrest of renowned anthropologist and Concordia University Professor Homa Hoodfar one, a number of Iranian media outlets said to be linked with the Revolutionary Guards have published reports, spreading patently false accusations and misinformation. They are asserting that Professor Hoodfar is under investigation due to her association with our international solidarity network, Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML), and that she is part of a feminist conspiracy to undermine state security. As such, WLUML’s networkers, its funding sources, and its activities have come under close scrutiny by the Iranian authorities.
Conservative Iranian media outlets have been writing about Dr. Hoodfar, purporting to have direct access to details on her case, including her interrogations. These reports contain a number of blatant misrepresentations and untruths. The facts are as follows:
1. WLUML is a charity that works to advance women’s equality and gender justice through a variety of channels, connecting women and organisations from over 70 countries, from South Africa to Uzbekistan, Senegal to Indonesia, and Brazil to Sudan. As a charity, it is (and is legally required to be) a not-for-profit organization, independent from any government. WLUML’s approach to networking relies on pluralism and complementarity, allowing networkers to define and adopt their own strategies as most appropriate in their contexts. Recognizing and valuing diversity in the network, WLUML brings together women who want to work from within the framework of religion as well as others who adopt a secular approach. Hence our slogan: “One common goal, various strategies”. WLUML works in accordance with the principles enshrined in internationally recognized Human Rights, particularly in the field of Women’s Rights.
2. WLUML is not a centrally coordinated organisation, but provides fluid connections with autonomous groups who mobilise their own resources for their local concerns and activities. As a decentralized network, WLUML has no formal membership. Its role is to provide information, research and analysis, training workshops and conferences, on issues that are relevant to the daily lives of women linked through our network. This includes information, solidarity and support on issues such as laws, access to education, land and livelihoods, safety, health, and more.
3. WLUML works as many other charities do, by raising funds from government and non-governmental organisations, as well as international bodies such as the United Nations or the European Union. WLUML network determines its own priorities and projects and then seeks funding for them, rather than carrying out activities according to priorities set by funders. Networkers are either independent civil society organisations or independent individuals, all of who work for the furtherance of women’s rights as equal citizens. Funds are mobilised for activities which networkers consider a priority, such as research on specific topics, meetings that allow women and organisations engaged in similar work to share experiences and learn from each other or publications for example. These funds are used according to law, and are not used for political purposes.
4. Professor Hoodfar became involved in the network almost a decade after it was established, at the start of the research programme Women and Law in the Muslim World, bringing the strength of her academic expertise. Professor Hoodfar’s involvement with WLUML has remained primarily academic in nature. Like hundreds of other networkers, Dr. Hoodfar has been involved in network activities, and like dozens of others, she has been on various committees, including the publication committee and the board. Professor Hoodfar’s academic research has primarily been concerned with women’s legal, cultural, and public health issues in a variety of countries. She often relies on the religious framework as her work attests.
5. In all these years of activity, none of our networkers has ever been arrested or charged for their association with WLUML. We believe it is the responsibility of the Iranian authorities to dispel these falsehoods. It is unfortunate that the Islamic Republic of Iran, which claims to be respectful of the rule of law and its citizens’ democratic rights, has decided to arrest and detain a well-known and highly respected academic on such grounds.
WLUML’s board of directors and networkers are greatly concerned about Professor Hoodfar’s health and well-being. We request the authorities to ensure her access to medication for her neurological condition.
We further urge the Iranian authorities to ensure Professor Hoodfar’s access to her lawyer and family, and to release her immediately and unconditionally.
Women Living Under Laws
International Director – WLUML
Director – Shirkat Gah (WLUML Asia Regional Office)