Iran, where a woman convicted of adultery has been sentenced to death by stoning, is likely to become a member of the board of the new UN agency to promote equality for women, prompting outrage from the US and human rights groups.A country whose views on women are positively neanderthal is going to be on a committee to "promote gender equality" worldwide?? This would be like making the president of NAMBLA in charge of the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, for cryin' out loud!!
Some rights groups are also upset that Saudi Arabia, where women are not allowed to drive and are barred from many facilities used by men, is also vying to join the governing body of UN Women.
The General Assembly resolution adopted in July that merged four UN bodies dealing with women's issues into a single agency with greater clout to represent half the world's population calls for a 41-member executive board, with 35 members chosen by regional groups and six representing donor nations.
The Asian group has put forward an uncontested 10-nation slate that includes Iran, UN diplomats said, and Saudi Arabia has been selected for one of two slots for emerging donor nations.
Mark Kornblau, spokesman for the US Mission, said Wednesday that Iran's membership "would send the wrong signal at the start of this exciting new initiative."
"UN Women is a vital new agency tasked with promoting gender equality and women's empowerment worldwide," he said. "We and many other countries are concerned by the negative implications of Iran's potential board memberships, given its poor record on human rights and the treatment of women.
"There are many qualified countries that would make positive and constructive contributions as board members," Kornblau said.
The stoning sentence against the 43-year-old woman, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, has raised an international outcry, embarrassing Iran.
A resolution adopted by the General Assembly last year expressed "deep concern" at Iran's increasing use of executions, death by stoning, torture, flogging and amputations, and its increasing discrimination against religious, ethnic and other minorities.
Philippe Bolopion, UN advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, said "it's puzzling that Iran would have the nerve to be a candidate for the board of UN Women, and even more puzzling if the Asia group lets Iran get away with it."
"Having on top of it Saudi Arabia, a country with a track record on women's rights as horrendous as Iran's, would add insult to injury," he said.
I believe I've entered the Twilight Zone.