Iran’s mistreatment of women shows it can’t be trusted

As the United States and its P5+1 partners rush to finalize a nuclear accord with Iran before the June 30 deadline, women in Iran continue to struggle to receive even the most basic freedoms.

The repressive Iranian regime’s treatment of its own citizens should give us all pause, and it highlights just how important it is to ensure that any final agreement is truly strong enough to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.

A brave female leader, academic and vice president by the name of Shahindokht Molaverdi is facing an uphill battle in trying to make progress with women’s rights in Iran from their archaic status.

Trapped in a highly misogynistic society, Iranian women have been victimized by acid attacks, executed for killing their rapists and arrested for dancing without wearing veils or for trying to watch sports games.

Sadly, the extreme violation of women’s rights and basic human rights of minorities is a staple of the brutal regime in Tehran. The regime in Iran insists upon the complete denial of dignity and rights for women, gays, political dissidents, human rights defenders, religious and ethnic minority groups and many journalists. Those who are perceived as different have been persecuted, jailed and, too often, executed.

Today, as headlines focus on the nuclear negotiations and the intense efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, let us not forget what the ayatollahs who rule in Tehran stand for.

Iran’s leaders have undertaken a different, more approachable tone with leaders in the West, and it has been working well. But Iran’s friendly demeanor has not been accompanied by improved behavior.

The mullahs continue to persecute women and minorities at home, and they continue to pursue a nuclear deal that would deliver the greatest sanctions relief with the fewest concessions. And with this, Tehran has yet to prove that we can trust them.

Historically, Iranian regimes have been some of the world’s worst human rights violators and currently it is in the midst of an aggressive geopolitical power grab in the region.

It’s hard to give Iran the benefit of the doubt when the ayatollahs are already capable of inhumane treatment of their women and children, and terrorizing others around the world.

I can understand the perspective of “giving the benefit of the doubt,” but in this case the United States must stand strong as too many lives are at stake.

Any final agreements with Iran must include completely unimpeded access for inspectors and transparency from Iran, including dismantling its nuclear infrastructure to eliminate any path to a nuclear weapon.

We must be persistent in our demand for a final agreement that prevents, not merely delays, Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. And we must ensure that sanctions relief begins after international inspectors have certified that Iran has complied with its commitments under the agreement.

The plight of women living under the repressive Iranian regime is deplorable, and it demonstrates just what is at stake in these negotiations.

The world simply cannot afford to allow such a repressive regime — one that leads the world in state-sponsored terrorism, brutally oppresses its own people, and works aggressively to spread its hate-filled ideology around the region — to acquire the deadliest weapons ever created.

A deal that falls short of any of these requirements would pose a grave danger to our national security and, indeed, the security of the world. It is imperative that the dialogue continue and we must urge for an accord that is beneficial to both sides.

Vargas is a women's rights advocate and member of Southwestern College’s governing board.

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