When pho­tos of Ira­nian men wear­ing dresses, skirts and scarves, first sur­faced, many thought it was some kind of joke. But the real rea­son is truly em­pow­er­ing...

Cosmopolitan (India) - - COSMO REPORT - By Muskan Ohri Ka­pur

On April 15, in the city of Mari­van, Iran, a lo­cal judge con­victed Sa­man Ra­soulpour for do­mes­tic vi­o­lence. His pun­ish­ment? Sa­man was sen­tenced to wear­ing a red chador (a tra­di­tional robe worn by Kur­dish brides), and then pa­raded around town.

Sa­man’s pun­ish­ment led to a global outcry, as both men and women re­tal­i­ated against the im­pli­ca­tion that a man be­ing fem­i­nine is the ‘ul­ti­mate

hu­mil­i­a­tion’. Within hours, fem­i­nist groups and ac­tivists took to the streets, hold­ing up signs to sup­port ‘wom­an­hood’, while a group of 17 MPs wrote to the Jus­tice Min­istry con­demn­ing the rul­ing as “hu­mil­i­at­ing to Mus­lim women”. But it was through dig­i­tal me­dia that this re­mark­able ‘civil dis­obe­di­ence’ truly picked up steam. Ma­soud Fathi up­loaded a pho­to­graph of him­self on Face­book in a bright green Kur­dish dress, adding a sen­tence that fast be­came the slo­gan for this move­ment: be­ing a woman is not a tool to hu­mil­i­ate or pun­ish any­one. Within hours, Face­book erupted with photographs of over 150 brave men, all wear­ing flowy bright, bold prints with signs that screamed equal­ity and re­spect for women (you can find th­ese pho­tos on the FB page, Kurd Men for Equal­ity). The sup­port­ers added lit­tle notes to their pic­tures, send­ing out a pow­er­ful mes­sage: women can­not be used as a de­vice for degra­da­tion and there is no free so­ci­ety with­out free women. The page quickly gained 18,000 fol­low­ers (and count­ing), and in­ter­na­tional dailies and me­dia im­me­di­ately picked up the story (even Amer­i­can ac­tress Rosario Daw­son sup­ported the cause, say­ing “it’s great that there are many in­cred­i­ble men around the world fight­ing for gen­der equal­ity”). Then, two months later, there was rea­son to cel­e­brate. An of­fi­cial state­ment was re­leased by the Is­lamic Repub­lic Po­lice Chief: “I apol­o­gise to Kur­dish women. The cul­prit of­fi­cers have been pun­ished”.

Over the years, Iran has re­peat­edly been ac­cused of op­pres­sion to­wards women, in­clud­ing a large num­ber of hon­our killings each year. Which is one of the rea­sons why this pre­dom­i­nantly male- led cam­paign has made head­lines all over the world. This re­tal­i­a­tion is a rare one, where Kur­dish men have taken a stand against their gov­ern­ment for what they hope will lead to a pos­i­tive out­come in the long run. As Ma­soud said in an in­ter­view with the Kur­dis­tan Tri­bune: “When I wore that dress, I sud­denly re­alised how much evil the chau­vin­ist think­ing of men, male- dom­i­nated re­li­gions, ide­olo­gies and sys­tems have caused. I un­der­stood that mas­cu­line cul­ture has de­stroyed the world.”

Men across the globe wore

dresses to pro­mote women’s rights in Iran

Here and be­low, sup­port­ers pose in

tra­di­tional wom­enswear

Ma­soud Fathi, who launched the cam­paign, poses in a bright green dress

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