An influential Iranian cleric has denounced Iran's ratification of a UN document that encourages more education for girls and condemns violence against women.
"I say it very clearly that it is religiously forbidden to adhere to these documents," Ayatollah Nasser Makarem-Shirazi told the Saturday edition of Yalessarat, a conservative weekly.
The cleric, who lives in the holy city of Qom, believes the decisions made by the women's rights conference earlier this month in New York are "incompatible with Islam."
Clerics in the Qom, about 125 kilometers (75 miles) south of Tehran, often wield their weight on social issues. Shirazi's remarks are the clerics' first reaction since the Iranian delegation approved the document June 10.
The New York conference was held to review progress made since a similar UN forum in Beijing in 1995 and concluded with the adoption of a broad document addressing women's goals and aspirations.
The document set a goal of making lifetime access to health care universal within 20 years. It also called a more aggressive prosecution of those who commit acts of violence against women, including employers.
The conference strongly discouraged the practice of female circumcisions, and called on member states to penalize the "honor killings" of women who are unfaithful or refuse to enter into forced marriage.
The delegates also called for women to have more access to employment and education, including sex education.
As in Beijing, some issues relating to sex and sexuality ran into opposition from delegates from countries with strong religious communities, both Muslim and Roman Catholic, who gathered around the Vatican's observer mission at the United Nations - TEHRAN (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)