Why are Iranian husbands standing up for their wives?

Several pictures of Iranian men declaring their support for their wives' equal rights Image copyright My Stealthy Freedom
Image caption 'As a human I feel ashamed to have these rights' reads one of the messages

Husbands in Iran are taking pictures of themselves declaring their commitment to female equality - and thousands are sharing their messages on Facebook.

Niloufar Ardalan captains Iran's indoor women's football team - her nickname is "Lady Goal". Earlier this month she was due to represent her country at a match in Malaysia, but was unable to attend - because, according to an interview she gave to Iranian media, her husband said she wasn't allowed.

The standard marriage contract signed by all newlyweds in Iran allows the husband to decide whether his wife can travel abroad, where the family will live, whether she can go to work, and whether she can ask for a divorce. In this instance, Ardalan says her husband, prominent sports journalist Mehdi Toutounchi, wanted her to be present for their son's first day at school.

But husbands can choose to waive the provisions of the marriage contract, and now, inspired by Ardalan's story, dozens of Iranian men who've done just that are sharing pictures on social media to advocate gender equality.

They are sending the images to Masih Alinejad, an Iranian journalist now living in the US, and creator of the "My Stealthy Freedom" Facebook page. As BBC Trending previously reported, the page was created last year to champion women's rights in Iran - and specifically to circulate pictures of Iranians taking off the headscarf or hijab that's mandatory for women outside the home.

Alinejad says she verifies the images before posting them page, where collectively they've been shared or liked more than 100,000 times. More are arriving all the time, and she plans to post two each day to prolong the life of the campaign she has dubbed "It's Men's Turn".

Image copyright My Stealthy Freedom

Alinejad tells BBC Trending that many women "simply don't know" they can request amendments to their marriage contract, even after they've signed it. "They need to be aware of what they're signing, and that they can ask for their rights to be returned," she explains. Alinejad believes there are "a lot of open-minded Iranian men who support women's rights," in spite of the country's conservative laws, although exactly what proportion of Iranian men would support the project is unclear.

The campaign initially called on men to declare that they wouldn't restrict their wives' ability to travel abroad, but most men posted statements saying they had passed all rights back to their wives, including the right to work and the right to request a divorce. "I return all rights... to my life partner," read one man's statement. "I'm not an owner but a partner for my wife," said another. "As a human I feel ashamed to have these rights," wrote a third.

Some even shared the page from their marriage contract showing amendments, as proof of their decision.

Image copyright My Stealthy Freedom
Image caption An amendment to an Iranian marriage contract

Blog by Sam Judah

Next story: The gay marriage proposal that's the talk of China

Image copyright Weibo / Bai Yiyan Vina

A marriage proposal on the Beijing underground has been the talk of Chinese social media - because it took place between two men. READ MORE

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending, and find us on Facebook. All our stories are at bbc.com/trending.

Related Topics