Thursday April 26, 2018
Home Politics Mother’...

Mother’s Protest to speak to her children over phone: Iranian Human Rights Defender Narges Mohammadi on hunger strike

Narges was first imprisoned in April 2012 and was released three months later on medical grounds

0
//
239
Narges Mohamadi. Image source: themediaexpress.com
Republish
Reprint
  • Narges Mohammadi, a human rights activist won 2009 Alexander Langer Award for her human rights activities and City of Paris medal for her peaceful activism
  • An unfair trial in April 2016 convicted Narges Mohammadi with the charges of “founding an illegal group”, “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security”, and “spreading propaganda against the system”
  • She has been on hunger strike since June 27, in protest at the prison authorities’ refusal to let her speak with her nine-year-old children

Narges Mohammadi, the Iranian human rights defender has been on hunger strike since June 27 in protest at the prison authorities’ refusal to let her speak with her nine-year-old children. Despite suffering from several medical conditions, she continues on with her protest endangering her health and life.

An unfair trial in April 2016 convicted Narges Mohammadi with the charges of “founding an illegal group”, “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security”, and “spreading propaganda against the system”. She received a 16-year prison sentence after she was convicted when she was already serving a six-year prison sentence from a previous case. Even the UN high commissioner for human rights joined the  chorus of international disapproval as Tehran revolutionary court sentenced her, reported the Guardian.

Follow NewsGram on Facebook

Mohammadi and her two kids.Image Source: Twitter
Mohammadi and her two kids.Image Source: Twitter

Narges was first imprisoned in April 2012 and was released three months later on medical grounds to receive treatment for a health condition that caused partial paralysis. Again, she was arrested, in May 2015 to serve the remainder of the six-year term when and was taken to Tehran’s Evin Prison. In October 2015, she suffered several seizures and was hospitalized.

Follow NewsGram on Twitter

“I have always said that, in a land where [each of] being a woman, being a mother and being a human rights defender is difficult on their own, being all three is an unforgivable crime… and here I am, in my own homeland, convicted and imprisoned for the crime of being a human rights defender, a feminist and an opponent of the death penalty,”she says in her letter dated 27 June 2016.

Image Source: Twitter
Image Source: Twitter

As there was nobody to look after her children after her arrest in May 2015, they moved abroad with their father. And now, she is not able to speak to them as the authorities have denied her the telephone. Since her arrest in May, she has been allowed only one phone call with them.

“I am left wondering how to tell Ali and Kiana, who have only heard Narges’s voice once over the past year, that their mother has got another 10 years in prison,” says Mohammadi’s husband, Taghi Rahmani to Amnesty.

In a letter she wrote from inside Evin Prison on 27 June announcing her hunger strike, she says,” Despite my reluctance and poor physical condition, there is no way left for me other than to stage a hunger strike to make my cry that ‘I am a mother’ and ‘I miss my children’ be heard… I have no request other than to be able to have contact with my children on the telephone. If my request is too great, unreasonable, immoral, unlawful and against national security, then tell me. If a mother who is considered a criminal in the eyes of the authorities must be denied the right to speak to her children, then announce it, otherwise let this mother hear the voices of her children.

According to theguardian.com reports, she suffers from a pulmonary embolism and a neurological disorder that has resulted in her experiencing seizures and temporary partial paralysis. When specialized care which she doesn’t receive in prison is required, she puts her life at risk through this hunger strike in a desperate attempt to listen to the voice of her kids.

Narges Mohammadi is a human rights activist who had won the Alexander Langer Award in 2009 for her human rights activities, especially her efforts to end the death penalty for juvenile offenders in Iran and recently, she received the City of Paris medal for her peaceful activism.

– prepared by Ajay Krishna of Newsgram. Twitter: @ajkrish14

ALSO READ:

 

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2016 NewsGram

Next Story

Alternative sanitary pads are here, but accessibility still an issue

The alternatives are slowly treading the path to being accessible to all, and their makers are optimistic about the future

0
//
11
Accessibility of Sanitary Pads is still an issue. IANS

Awareness about the harm easily-accessible, plastic-based sanitary napkins have been causing to both health and the environment is spreading — but slowly. And helping the cause of better menstrual hygiene, many sanitary pad makers, NGOs and indigenous brands are turning towards natural products to produce sustainable pads.

Organic cotton, banana or jute fibre — and even old clothes — are now among the alternatives on offer to the sanitary pads sold by the MNCs in India.

An alternative for plastic sanitary pads.
Making of better sanitary pads in process.

But why do we need these alternatives?

According to reports, every plastic-based sanitary pad has non-biodegradable content which takes around 500-800 years to decompose. Apart from the threat to the environment, medical experts have also voiced concern over possible pelvic infection due to repeated use of these easily-available plastic pads.

One of the companies providing an alternative is Ahmedabad-based Saathi, which was started in 2015 by graduates from MIT, Harvard and Nirma.

“We realised that there was a need for an alternative, and urban women were looking for different products because they were becoming aware of the consequences of plastic-based pads. The idea of using banana fibre came up and we decided to make sanitary pads based on it,” Saathi co-founder Kristin Kagetsu told IANS. Banana fibre comes from the stem of the banana tree, which, after harvesting, is normally discarded. Saathi buys the stems from collectives of local farmers.

“After being disposed, Saathi’s pads degrade within six months, which is 1,200 times faster than the MNC pads. Since our products are made of natural materials, Saathi pads provide an experience free of rashes and irritation,” Kagetsu added.

It was not an easy ride for the founders of Saathi. Tarun Bothra, another co-founder, said apart from breaking the taboos associated with menstruation, another major challenge for them was to convince banana farmers to sell them the fibre for making pads. “Periods are something that farmers associate with being ‘impure’. So convincing them that it was better to use the banana fibre for the pads than letting it go as a waste was difficult, but we succeeded,” he noted.

Also Read: Taxing Menstruation? GST Denies Sanitary Napkins as Essential Commodity

Another sanitary pad maker, EcoFemme, based in Auroville, is also in the business of making eco-friendly menstrual products — they make cloth-based pads using organic cotton.

“Our target is women aged 18-35. Our products are sold in rural areas through our ‘Pads for Sisters’ programme which offers women the opportunity to buy the pads at a reduced price. The response is good, once there has been a conversation around the benefits,” said Laura O’Connell from EcoFemme.

It’s not just producing the pads; the makers have also taken up the responsibility of creating awareness about menstrual hygiene amongst women, especially in rural areas.

Anshu Gupta’s Not Just Piece of Cloth (NJPC) was among the first to turn clothes into pads. For over a decade now, ‘MyPad’ has been selling its products in rural areas where there is little access to sanitary pads, and even in cities.

“In earlier times, clothes were used. But it was portrayed that clothes were unhygienic. Yes, they are, if not cleaned properly. We at Goonj first thoroughly clean the clothes, make them hygienic, make the pads and the distribute them among women, especially in rural areas,” Meenakshi Gupta from NJPC told IANS.

Non biodegradable sanitary pads.
Plastic sanitary pads do not decompose easily.

She revealed that the idea of making cloth pads came when Goonj, an NGO, found that in rural areas, or even slums of urban cities, women use clothes during menstruation. “It is better to use hygienic clothes than nothing. Women in rural areas lack the knowledge that if used in a hygienic way then clothes are equally good. We don’t aim to make profits, rather make women aware about periods. We have observed quite a change (in attitudes),” she added.

When will such products make it to every household?

Although Saathi has collaborated with local NGOs to reach out to rural women, its co-founder Bothra — also the company’s CTO — believes that the wider use of alternative sanitary pads is going to take some time in India.

“Frankly speaking, in rural areas women don’t even have an idea about sanitary pads; so knowing about the existence of biodegradable sanitary napkins or organic pads or even hygienic clothes is very rare,” Bothra, whose products are available on e-commerce platforms, explained. He further noted that since the MNC-produced pads are easily available at low cost, women don’t show much interest in investing money on the alternatives.

“Price is often a factor for women when it comes to the purchase of biodegradable or organic pads. When one is getting the plastic-based sanitary pads at a lower rate, they don’t like to shell out extra ,” Bothra noted. O’Connell said that though their products have a higher up-front cost, the pads can be used for three to four months — which saves money over time.

A better alternative for plastic sanitary pads.
Sanitary napkins being made from banana fibre.

“Our ‘Pads for Sister’ programme aims to make our pads affordable to women who would otherwise not be able to afford them; and our ‘Pad for Pad’ programme provides our pads to school girls for free,” she added. The alternatives are slowly treading the path to being accessible to all, and their makers are optimistic about the future.

“There is a growing awareness, but there is a lot of work to do to make reusable options more widely known. We believe in informed choices; so we hope that more people in all areas of India, not just rural, will become aware of sustainable options and make a decision based on the fact that reusable products are better for health, the planet and our wallets,” O’Connell commented. IANS