This evening Women in Iran website had a meeting at Women Internet Cafe in Banoo Cultural Center. We invited Nina Kristiansen, the director of Norwegian Information and Documentation Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research (Kilden), to have a speech about the rights of women in Scandinavian countries.

Our audience was almost entirely women from different NGOs and there were also some individuals interested in the rights of women as well.

Nina talked about very interesting things, including the equal participation of men and women by all means in Norway. For example she talked about bringing up the children and the equal maternity leave offered to both mothers and fathers. She talked about rape and she mentioned the most common type of rape in Norway, and supposedly any other country, is getting raped by husbands, i.e. a woman getting forced to have sexual relationship with her husband against her own will. It was really interesting since you hardly ever hear about such a thing in Iran. As far as I have seen, and heard in my life, women have no special right in their sexual relationships. They hardly talk about it, and hardly ask themselves if they really want to do it or not. If their husbands wish to have sex with them, they obey automatically, and gosh nobody ever talks about women getting raped by their husbands here!

Another interesting point she mentioned about rape was the law they have in Norway for raped women that prevents an investigation of a woman’s background prior to being raped. That means no one can accuse a woman for her conduct or the kind of clothes she wears; no one can say that a woman has deserved to be raped because of a special conduct (e.g. being tempting or wearing tempting clothes.)

About the women movement in Iran she said our movements are mostly connected with the government and that won’t work in the long term. She said women in Norway have struggled so hard to reach their goals, and at the beginning of every movement, every campaign, there were so few women participating. She said after a while, after any success they’ve reached, people have started to approve their causes gradually, and I’m sure by that she meant that we haven’t struggled enough in Iran and I do agree with that.

She recommended the women movements in Iran to do documented research, submitting the facts resulted from the research to the government, and base their struggles on those documented facts so that they won’t be opposed by the government.

She talked about so many other things and the women presenting there were so amazed by all the types of freedom or equality a woman can enjoy in her life. The meeting ended up with the audience’s questions about women rules in Norway at 8 pm, while most of the audience was late to go home and cook their husbands and children’s dinner!