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Opinion

Iran's brutality toward women should shock West into seeking regime change

In Iran, young women are jailed for specious reasons, then raped before being executed in a barbaric effort to keep them out of heaven. The people of Iran are desperate for a show of support from the West. On International Women's Day, will the West finally stand up for women in Iran?

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Every few days, guards call out names over a loudspeaker. These women know what it means to have their names called, and they hold hands, praying that this will not be the day they are dragged out of their cell and executed. Those whose names are not called for execution are lined up and lashed. Many of them faint from the lashing, never knowing what the guards do with their unconscious bodies.

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If they are called, they are raped before execution so they are no longer virgins and therefore, according to hardline Islamic beliefs, can no longer go to heaven. None of these girls would ever know the joys of romantic love. None of them would ever hold her own baby in her arms. Their final days have been filled with a level of abuse few can imagine.

Women who abide completely by the rules of the clerics are not immune to their cruelty. Many women – sometimes as young as 15 – have been stoned to death on bogus charges of adultery. The Islamic leaders of Iran proudly state that this horrific and inhumane punishment is part of their constitution and consistent with the implementation of the holy sharia laws of Islam.

The West must decide

In spite of these atrocities, Iran recently joined the UN Commission on the Status of Women! Meanwhile, the West has done little to support women’s rights in Iran – or support those bravely calling for freedom.

In 2009, the Green Movement rattled the regime with calls for democracy, but the West gave no real help – and the movement faded amid a brutal crackdown. Today, inspired by uprisings across the Middle East, Iranians – including many women who’ve planned to protest today – are again trying to stand up to their Islamic rulers.

How the West responds will be one of the most important decisions of our time. Will we aid the return of democracy and freedom in Iran, or will we succumb to Tehran’s murderous government in the name of hedging our bets? The people of Iran are desperate for a show of support from the West. By standing with them, we can uphold our duty to take a stand for the security of the free world.

People-powered democratic revolts – do they last?

Today, hundreds of courageous female political and human rights activists and thousands of brave Iranian girls who joined their fellow men to reject brutality and demand freedom sit in jail helpless – but with a hope that change is possible. Let’s not allow the death of Neda and other victims be in vain. Let’s join together on International Women’s Day to demand justice, equality, and freedom for all Iranians.

Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for an ex-CIA spy who requires anonymity for safety reasons. He is the author of “A Time to Betray,” a book about his double life as a CIA agent in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

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