Leila Alikarami on Female Landmine Survivors in Iran

Leila Alikarami, an Iranian human rights lawyer, recently wrote an article entitled In Iran, Female Landmine Survivors are Third Class Citizens, describing the many hardships and obstacles both direct and indirect female victims face in their lives as a result of landmines. In the past, GMAP has exchanged ideas on gender-sensitive mine action with Leila […]

Leila Alikarami, an Iranian human rights lawyer, recently wrote an article entitled In Iran, Female Landmine Survivors are Third Class Citizens, describing the many hardships and obstacles both direct and indirect female victims face in their lives as a result of landmines. In the past, GMAP has exchanged ideas on gender-sensitive mine action with Leila and applauds Leila in her commitment to help these people.

The landmine contamination can be traced back to the nearly decade long 1980-1989 Iran-Iraq war where an estimated twenty million landmines were laid. While the conflict ended over 27 years ago, its legacy still impacts both male and female landmine victims. Already prejudiced in Iran, Leila states that women with disabilities become unofficially categorized as “third-class citizens” due to discriminatory laws and policies. If a woman or girl is directly injured by a landmine, her life becomes drastically different. Marriage, providing an income and basic day-to-day activities are a few the consequences that a woman can face. If a woman or girl is indirectly impacted by a landmine – such as when a family member is injured – her life is also dramatically altered. This is because females might have to shift their traditional roles and take on new responsibilities such as becoming the provider for the family. This causes issues associated with social norms and the women’s role in the family to arise and often causes tension within the family and even within the larger community.

Wanting to eliminate the stigma attached to Iranian women with disabilities, Leila seeks to empower women through employment in the mine action sector and more importantly, empower impacted women and girls to “restore a new sense of life to a landscape which continues to bear the scars of a decade’s old war”.

GMAP and Leila’s beliefs regarding mine action coincide: mine action activities should be tailored to meet the needs of diverse groups, including women and girls, and provide opportunities for people to participate in, and benefit equally from programmes.

Photo Credit: Giovanni Diffidenti – ICBL, 2013, Geneva