Kurdish Men Wear Women's Clothes for Gender Equality, 2013

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Timing
Time Period:  
April 15th
2013
to
May 18th
2013
Location and Goals
Country: 
Iran
Location City/State/Province: 
Marivan
Goals: 
To stop the use of forced crossdressing as a form of criminal humiliation
 

On 15 April 2013, policemen in Marivan, Iran executed a form of criminal
punishment that quickly garnered public criticism. A 25 year old man,
Tawfik Dabash, had been convicted of “disturbing public order,” and
police later paraded him around the city in handcuffs wearing
traditional Kurdish women’s clothes (similar to the bridal robe) in
order to humiliate him. Later that day, Kurdish women of Marivan, who
had been historically oppressed on the basis of both gender and ethnic
identity, quickly organized into a 400-person march through the city to
condemn the justice system’s choice of punishment and prevent the police
from ever carrying it out again.

The Special Guard Unit of the police brutally attacked the protesters,
who dressed in traditional wear similar to Dabesh. This was done in
order to show their pride in their culture which was being
misappropriated. The police arrested many and inflicted head injuries
and a broken leg. In response, 17 Iranian Members of Parliament wrote to
the Interior and Justice Ministry to condemn this form of punishment as
“humiliating to Muslim women.”

As news of the injustices spread, Masound Fathi, a Kurdish Marivan
native, looked for an outlet to express his disappointment in the
justice system. He decided to have his friend Dler Kamangar photograph
him dressed in traditional women’s attire to challenge the assumption
that “being a woman is not a tool to humiliate or punish anymore”; a
caption he added when he posted the picture to Facebook. On 18 April,
the friends created the Facebook page “Kurd Men for Equality.”

Within one week, the Facebook page had gained 9,000 fans. Hundreds of
Kurdish men posted pictures of themselves in women’s attire, holding
signs with Fathi’s slogan. The demographics of the men spanned all ages
and occupations; including men from outside of the country. Some
pictures featured women dressed boldly in men’s attire. The page
continued to grow rapidly and grabbed the attention of news outlets all
around the world.

One month after Fathi and Kamanger established their Facebook page, on
18 May, the Islamic Republic Police Chief issued an apology to all
Kurdish women, and announced that the officers responsible for carrying
out the punishment were fired and that the situation would not happen
again. Two other criminals had been expected to face a similar
punishment in the near future, but their punishments were cancelled at
this time.

On Facebook, Fathi shared his feelings on the outcomes of the photo
campaign: “This is a victory for all those who protested against the
conduct of the police [in parading a male defendant dressed in women's
clothes], for women of Mariwan, for all the men who dressed in women's
clothes, for every single person anywhere in the world who joined the
Being a Woman Is Not a way to Punish and Humiliate Anyone campaign or
protested in any way against this action of the police.”

Research Notes
Influences: 

2009 protest in support of student and civil activist Majid Tavakoli

Sources: 
The Kurdistan Tribune. 2013. "Kurdish Men for Gender Equality." The Kurdistan Tribune, 25 April. Retrieved 5 April 2015. <http://web.archive.org/web/20150405225138/http://kurdistantribune.com/2013/kurdish-men-for-gender-equality/>.

Facebook. 2015. "زن بودن ابزار تحقیر و تنبیه هیچ کس نیست." Facebook. Retrieved 5 April. <http://web.archive.org/web/20150405225256/https://www.facebook.com/KurdMenForEquality>.

The Jerusalem Post. 2015. "Iranian Men Don Dresses in Support of Women." The Jerusalem Post. 25 April. Retrieved 5 April 2015. <http://web.archive.org/web/20150405225445/http://www.jpost.com/International/In-pictures-Iranian-men-don-drag-in-support-of-women-311076>.

The Stream. 2013. "'Kurd Men for Equality'" The Stream. Aljazeera, 22 April. Retrieved 5 April 2015. <http://web.archive.org/web/20150405225607/http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/201304222317-0022695>.

Iran Human Rights. 2013. "Public Outcry in Kurdish City After Male Suspect Paraded in Female Clothing." International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, 18 April. Retrieved 5 April 2015.<http://web.archive.org/web/20150405230035/http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2013/04/kurdishclothing/>.

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy: 
Jasmine Rashid 04/04/15