Oh, those folks at the United Nations…they sure do have a way with women. 

News broke late last week that Iran has been appointed to the United Nations’ Commission on Women’s Rights.  Should we be surprised?  Of course not.  After all, earlier this year the UN was considering appointing Iran to the UN Human Rights Council (see Nicole Kurokawa’s excellent analysis on that issue here) but Iran quietly withdrew its candidacy last week.  And don’t forget, in a move that rivalled many Onion Newspaper stories for its shear unbelievability and absurdity, last year the UN appointed one of the world’s worst violators of human rights–the government of Sudan–to the UN Human Rights Council.  Just as a refresher, take a look at what New York Times columnist Nick Kristof had to say about the genocide in the western section of Sudan-known as Darfur: 

In my years as a journalist, I thought I had seen a full kaleidoscope of horrors, from babies dying of malaria to Chinese troops shooting students to Indonesian mobs beheading people. But nothing prepared me for Darfur, where systematic murder, rape, and mutilation are taking place on a vast scale, based simply on the tribe of the victim. What I saw reminded me why people say that genocide is the worst evil of which human beings are capable. 

Given the UN’s history of almost comic appointments, Friday’s announcement really came as no surprise but it is still painful to see Iran recognized by the United Nations and appointed to the very UN body responsible for monitoring women’s rights.  Let us not forget that Iran is a country ruled by a government that views women as second class citizens.  This is a country where a woman must cover her head and body at all times, can be stoned to death for adultery, cannot easily divorce their husbands and will almost never be given custody of her children.  This is a country where a woman’s life is simply worth less than a man’s life. 

And the situation for women in Iran has not improved. In fact, in recent years the “morality police” have been cracking down on western clothing and hairstyles.  And just last week, the police chief of Tehran issued a warning to Iranian women for being “too tan” saying “We are not going to tolerate this situation and will first warn those found in this manner and then arrest and imprison them.” 

But perhaps the greatest tragedy in all of this is for the women in Iran who are fighting for freedom.  Women like Neda Agha-Soltan who was killed last summer during the post-election protests.  And one brave women that Jay Nordlinger reminds readers about on NRO’s The Corner:  

…the news about Iran is slightly hard for me to take just at the moment. I have been at the Oslo Freedom Forum, listening to, among others, Marina Nemat. She is one of the countless girls and women who have been seized by the regime, thrown into Evin Prison – one of the darkest places on earth – tortured, raped, and otherwise battered. The regime has been doing this right from the beginning. Right from about 1980. And it is going on now. Rape, in particular, has been a constant tool of the regime: a tool of punishment and control. Why do we know Marina Nemat’s name, of all the girls and women who have been through this? Once escaped to the West, she wrote a book, Prisoner of Tehran: One Woman’s Story of Survival Inside an Iranian Prison. It is a harrowing, mind-scrambling story.