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Opinion: How can Iran oversee women's rights?

A country that deems spousal rape legal will now monitor how other nations treat women.

An Iranian woman looks on as she takes part in a rally outside the United Nations office in northern Tehran, Nov. 9, 2007. (Morteza Nikoubazl/Reuters)

WASHINGTON — If you thought Iran's withdrawal of its bid for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council was a step in the right direction, think again.

There are no circumstances under which it makes sense for Iran to sit on any human rights committee. For it to sit on the UNHRC, would have been the ultimate manifestation of wolves guarding the sheep. Apparently, and thankfully, enough members of the U.N. General Assembly agreed, and Iran withdrew its candidacy.

But that wasn’t Iran’s most preposterous quest. Instead of the UNHRC, Iran will now sit on the U.N.'s Commission on the Status of Women. Seriously. Iran is being given an opportunity to oversee the rights of women around the world.

The U.N.'s Commission on the Status of Women is a four-year assignment tasked with reviewing abuses to women’s rights and helping nations reach gender equity. This body, made up of 45 nations elected on a rotating basis, is “dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women.”

So Iran, whose criminal code allows women accused of adultery to be buried up to their necks and stoned to death, will now help oversee women’s rights.

Iran, which deems spousal rape legal, will now monitor how other nations treat women.

Iran, which, according to the U.S. Department of State’s 2009 country-by-country report, cracked down on women’s rights reformers protesting the disputed June 2009 elections, will help other nations achieve gender equality.

Iran, as the U.S. State department notes, according to a study published in 2008, is a country where “52.7 percent of women reported being physically abused during their married lives.” It  will now have a say in the global treatment of women.

In Iran, even adult women need their father’s consent, or approval of the courts, to marry, and the testimony of two women equals the testimony of one man. An Iranian cleric recently announced that such natural disasters as earthquakes are caused by women who dress and act immodestly.

Iran is particularly unfit to fulfill the vital mission of an organization dedicated to women’s rights.

The UNHRC, to which Iran first sought admission, is already crammed with some of the most unsavory, questionable-on-human-rights nations. The council avoided complete and utter obsolescence by Iran’s withdrawal.

Would that it were so for the women’s council.

A global women’s guardian is now staffed by a nation that severely oppresses more than half its population.