Change for Equality


Collecting Signatures on the Bus

By Maral Farokhi

Sunday 29 August 2010

Translated by: Sussan Tahmasebi

Change for Equality: It was the first time I was collecting signatures on my own. I got on the bus at Revolution Square, it was early evening and the bus was crowded. There were no seats left. I tried to find a place to stand which would allow me to speak to the other passengers about the Campaign.

I started first from the woman who was standing next to me. Because the bus was crowded I spoke in a loud voice. The volume of my voice, the issues we were discussing and the petition forms and the booklet of the Campaign, all worked to attract the attention of a large number of passengers, who looked at me inquisitively, on occasion nodding their heads in agreement, and asking to sign the petition. Among the women who listened to what I was saying there were three fully veiled women. They listened to what I was saying attentively. I waited for them to begin disagreeing with what I was saying. I explained about the Campaign and our aims, and began answering questions, all the while watching the three women, to see what their reaction was, which part of my discussion they were opposed to most, so that I could prepare mentally to engage in a serious debate. But to my surprise all three signed the petition as soon as I finished explaining about the Campaign. One of the women even started defending the need to change the laws, against claims by others who believed that the situation was not as bad as I had described, or who believed that the laws had already been reformed! The woman told us all about her own experience. She talked about how she had finally managed with great difficulty to get a divorce from her abusive husband. She talked about the difficulties in the laws, which not only did not protect her from the violent beatings of her husband, but made it extremely difficult to obtain a divorce.

The discussions were so heated and interesting, that all the passengers in the women’s section of the bus became involved. Some of the men too, in the front section of the Bus, kept looking at us in an effort to figure out the subject of our heated debate. That night, I managed to get a lot of signatures from passengers on the Bus. When I finally got off the bus, I was happy and thankful for the Campaign, for the special experiences it afforded me, for creating a situation where I would be able to talk with other women, feel their pain and we would be able to discuss our lives and feel connected in feminine solidarity, women who may not have had much in common with one another, except for maybe the need for reforming the laws.

Note: This article was written over a year ago, but translated for the English site’s anniversary celebration of four years of face-to-face engagement with the public.

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