Iran protests
Iran protestsReuters

After Iran was elected to participate in a gender rights commission in secret ballot voting at the UN, UN Watch urged U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield and the EU to condemn the move, which will see the Islamic Republic taking a leading roll in the “principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.”

Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, compared the decision to, “making an arsonist into the town fire chief," adding, "Today the UN sent a message that women’s rights can be sold out for backroom political deals and it let down millions of female victims in Iran and worldwide who look to the world body for protection."

The Islamic Republic, often accused of numerous human rights abuses, including ones dealing with women's issues, will take part in the prestigious commission.

Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert, held as a bargaining chip by Iranian authorities for 804 days on false allegations of spying for Israel, said, "the legal age for a girl to marry in Iran is 13—with even younger girls allowed to marry with paternal and judicial consent.”

“Ayatollah Khamenei’s regime imprisons courageous women’s rights activists, such as Nasrin Sotudeh, Mojgan Keshavarz, Yasaman Aryani, and Monireh Arabshahi, for the crime of peacefully demanding their human dignity.”

“Why, then, did the UN name one of the world’s worst oppressors of women as a world judge and guardian of gender equality and the empowerment of women?," wrote Neuer.

Iranian women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad tweeted, “This is surreal." "A regime that treats women as second class citizens, jails them for not wearing the compulsory hijab, bans them from singing, bars them from stadiums and doesn’t let them travel abroad without the permission of their husbands gets elected to UN's top women's rights body," she wrote.