Iran’s Leaders Demand Their Women Produce More Cannon Fodder

By Donald A. Collins | 9 June 2014
Church and State

Have a baby for the Ayatollah! Have a baby for the Pope! Have a baby for Putin! Out-breed all the tribal religionists or any other special interest groups in the world. Get more Sunnis or Shiites! Out-breed the Protestants! Repopulate Russia!

When I visited Iran in the mid 1970’s the then hated Shah was in power, but women were more likely then than now to receive good reproductive health care including birth control. This policy produced a stable birth rate which carried over for decades after the Shah was deposed by the present religious hierarchy.

Now we find that this same new religious hierarchy has begun offering incentives to Iranian women to produce more children.

According to the 6/8/14 NY Times article, “Urged to Multiply, Iranian Couples Are Dubious” by Thomas Edrbrink,

In their early 30s, married, and with prospects for successful careers, Bita and Sherag could be contemplating the logical next step in their lives: becoming parents.

But for them and an increasing number of young, middle-class Iranians who are deeply pessimistic over their country’s future, raising a child is one of the last things on their minds.

Bita, who like her husband asked for her family name to be withheld so they could speak freely, said she had had two abortions, which are illegal in Iran. “We are really serious about not having kids,” she said.

Iran’s leaders have taken notice. Worried about a steep decline in fertility rates that experts are predicting could reduce population growth to zero within 20 years, Tehran has started a broad initiative to persuade Iranian families to have more children.

Seems a bit redundant to worry about any scarcity of human beings on Earth when you consider that our plundered planet had added 5 billion humans since I was born in 1931.

Who was the environmentalist who noted that endless growth reminded him of the behavior of a cancer cell?

As my OP ED pieces have noted for years, the only true solution to the population crisis will come when all women have access to modern methods of birth control and not be intimidated or coerced by the world’s reprehensible male dominated monotheistic religions!

Will the planet survive until that happens? The jury is still out on that one.

Mr. Erdbrink’s masterful article needs further recitation here to remind us of the history in Iran.

As he notes:

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, sounded the alarm in a speech last winter, saying he was “shaking with fear” over the “dangerous issue” of population decline and warning officials to begin grappling with it now.

“After a few years, when the current young generation becomes old,” he said, “there will be no cure for that.”

Mr. Khamenei followed that up with a 14-point program, announced late last month, that health officials hope will lead to a doubling of Iran’s population, to 150 million, by 2050. Hospital delivery stays are now free, and women are allowed longer maternity leave. Reversing past policies to control population growth, the government has canceled subsidies for condoms and birth control pills and eliminated free vasectomies.

Billboards in the capital show a laughing father with five children riding a single tandem bicycle up a hill, leaving far behind an unhappy looking father with only one child. Those parents who actually produce five children are now eligible for a $1,500 bonus, not that many here are likely to be tempted.

“When I see those, I wonder, how can that father even smile?” said Hadi Najafi, 25, an unemployed professional soccer player. He said he did not have the money to marry, let alone keep up with rents increasing by 25 percent a year.

“Anybody with a lot of children is either very rich or very irresponsible,” Mr. Najafi said. “There is no other way.”

The demographic problem has also become entwined with Iran’s long-running conflict with the West over its nuclear program. One of the leading sources of Iran’s economic troubles is the series of harsh Western economic sanctions imposed in recent years to punish Tehran and to bring it to the negotiating table.

Iran’s population policies have been erratic.

Though the population has doubled since 1979, most of the increase came in the years after the 1979 revolution, when sheer joy and hopes for a better future prompted many to have large families. The government also pushed procreation as a patriotic gesture during the bloody Iran-Iraq war, which ended in 1988 at a cost of at least 300,000 Iranian lives.

At its peak, in the years after the 1979 revolution, Iran’s birthrate was 3.6 children per couple, according to the Statistical Organization of Iran and experts, far above the replacement level of 2.1.

So the jobless millions get it including MEN, like Hadi, and especially women! Such efforts to encourage child making in places where such extremely unfavorable conditions exist have failed, but if access to birth control is limited then……………….

Do we have any reason for optimism? Well, again, the Times author’s brilliant recitation of those interviewed for his piece tells us in effect, the leaders disrespect their own people by trying to foist children on families whose economic circumstances are tenuous. Hardly a moral position, but that of course reminds us of the Catholic position which wails about the plight of the poor while demanding its supplicants produce more poor people.

The Times piece continues:

Fearing that the country’s economy would not be able to provide jobs for the growing number of young people — a situation with potentially explosive political repercussions — Iran’s more moderate clerics introduced a “fewer kids, better lives” campaign to bring down the birthrate.

But the number of children per couple has now dwindled to 1.3, more typical of a developed, high-income country like Germany, which is spending heavily to increase its fertility rate, now 1.4.

Paradoxically, Iran has never had more people of reproductive age. A little under 70 percent of the population of 77 million is younger than 35, with most living in or near cities and increasingly embracing urban culture. But many of them are profoundly pessimistic.

Like many young couples, Sherag, an architect, and Bita, a recent college graduate, cited a litany of problems as reasons for their dark outlook: an intrusive state and its conservative ideology, a sickly economy, political instability.

“When we go to bed we don’t even know what will happen when we wake up,” he said.

“I just don’t want to bring children into this hell,” she said.

That attitude is widespread among Tehran’s middle class. “Even with our combined incomes, my husband and I can’t afford to rent a place, so we alternate between our parents’ houses,” said Negar Mohammadi, the manager of one of Tehran’s most popular restaurants. “If I were to give up my job to have kids, how would we manage to rent a house for ourselves?”

Some women and human rights activists suspect that the drive for more children is also aimed at keeping women in what conservative clerics believe is their place, the home.

“It will make them more financially dependent on their husbands and the political system, prioritize the family’s well-being over women’s health and education and as a result of all these will make women’s mobilization much more difficult,” said Azadeh Kharazi, a sociologist.

Also, let’s say “Fie” to Germany and all countries that talk about sagging human numbers (below the replacement birth rate of 2.1) because that means the humans of the world may survive this unprecedented bubble of bodies which went up almost 6 times in a hundred years and will either come down or our species will be brought down by the 4 Horseman of the Apocalypse (look that phase up if you need to, Mr. Ali Khamenei, and then please try to explain it to Pope Francis and German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the myriad of other world leaders who keep chanting the “growth” message).

Knowing that more and more jobs will continue to be lost to automation, just adding more bodies to the world mix will make the stability, comity and cohabitation of this tiny orb less and less possible.

Let’s be fair. Our own leaders don’t get this message either! If they did they would be leading the charge to fund more family planning efforts, but of course with 6 of our 9 Supreme Court Justices of Catholic faith and a Federal government loaded those embracing the standards of those other monotheistic male dominated religions what do we expect?? What we have now, of course, utterly inadequate attention and action!

Back to my earlier question, any chance for optimism? Yes, in sum, I am guardedly upbeat because women worldwide are never knowingly happily engaged in producing cannon fodder for any macho male regime’s warring whoring! The male worship of violent conflict is in effect a religion, just like going to a prostitute to satisfy one’s lust. In the case of war they too often go for power and peacock strutting recognition. But those who have been to war (unlike George W. Buch) know better. Hope that the minority of anti war believers can keep the lusts of the many others who don’t know of war’s hell in check, thus giving the human race the time (likely decades) needed for women to obtain full access to modern birth control and real equality among men. To that small hope I come, but with limited optimism. Real problem: We don’t have decades in which to fix this problem.

Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC., has spent over 40 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013.

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