This prize does not belong to me only. It belongs to all the Iranian people. It belongs to all those who have been trying to bring human rights and democracy.
Shirin Ebadi, Tehran, October 11, 2003 
The Nobel Peace Prize committee frequently has tried to use the prize to mobilize international pressure to promote universal human rights. It has done so by underscoring the importance of the struggles spearheaded by human rights activists such as Bishop Tutu in South Africa, Aung Ken Suu Kyi in Burma, and Jose Ramos-Hora and Bishop Carlos Bello in East Timor. The awarding of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize to Shirin Ebadi, a female Iranian lawyer, university professor, and human rights advocate, marks the first time that a Muslim woman has won such a prize. The award signals a striking success for Ebadi's persistent efforts in the past quarter century to champion the rights of women and children. This recognition has received support from the vast majority of Iranians, expatriates, and feminist organizations and networks across the globe. It demonstrates that voices of reform within the Muslim world are vibrant.
External support of this magnitude, while indispensable to internal reform, has prompted different reactions. Iranians living abroad believe that the prize will improve Iran's image around the world. At home, Sadeq Zibakalam, a professor of political science at Tehran University, has noted that Ebadi owes her prize to Iran's poor image of the past two decades. During this time, reports of the systematic human rights abuses have tarnished Iran's reputation in the international community. These include, among others, documentaries about the stoning to death of men and women; the killing of Zahra Kazemi, an Iranian Canadian reporter who died from a deadly hemorrhage in Tehran's notorious Ivin prison; the abortive death sentence against reformist professor Hashem Aghajari, who had vociferously challenged the rule of hard-line clerics: and the country's image as the world's notorious prison for journalists.
Middle Eastern specialists concur with this characterization, arguing that the Islamic Republic often has violated its own constitution by shutting down newspapers, political parties, professional associations, and labor unions. It has systematically tortured prisoners to extract false confessions and public recantations. It has incarcerated tens of thousands and has executed some twenty-five thousand political prisoners, most of them without due process of law. Educated women have harbored numerous grievances against the patriarchal attitudes and policies of the ruling conservative clerics in the regime, especially in the judiciary. Many grievances concern the matters of human security and social equity and thus are work-related, including job security, pay scales, promotion, maternity leave, and access to prestigious professions. Furthermore, the reform movement of the late 1990s has failed to facilitate women's access to key political positions.
It is in this context that the disillusionment with the reform movement must be understood. While criticizing clerical rulers, including President Khatami, for the failure of the reform movement, Ebadi has stated: "Iranians are profoundly disappointed. The Islamic Republic cannot continue if it fails to evolve and heed the people's desire for major reform." The timing of Ebadi's prize is especially important in light of the failed reform. Several factors explain this disenchantment: (1) President Mohammad Khatami's ability to effect significant political change has been contained largely by his strategy of walking a fine line between conservatives and reformers; (2) the conservative judiciary has forcibly suppressed the reform and democratic movements; and (3) the parliament (majlis) has failed to truly represent popular sovereignty. The clerically dominated Guardian Council (shora'ya negahban), which oversees the majlis and enjoys veto power over parliamentary bills deemed as not conforming with Islamic law, has consistently presented other barriers to social change and reform.
There are two different views regarding Ebadi's prize. Pessimists regard the prize as politically driven and orchestrated by the West to influence Iran's internal political dynamics. Optimists tend to view the award as providing new blood and flesh to a reform skeleton that in the past few years has been just that. They argue that the reform movement is reborn. To pessimists, however, reformists are chiefly interested in women's votes rather than women's rights. In this paper, I take a sanguine outlook on change. My purpose is twofold: (1) to argue that the prize could foster and strengthen Islamic feminism in all its forms in Iran, and (2) to discuss the ways in which it could profoundly influence the country's growing gender problems. The answer to the question of whether Iranian leaders will be more open to modernity and globalizing pressures has become inseparable from the extent to which women's rights are upheld. What comes next and where this dynamic might lead will depend on whether women's drive for social change is sustainable.
Defending the victims
A longtime defender of the rights of women and children, Ebadi pointed out in one of her speeches that "the road to the peace prize was also paved through the pain and suffering of people who have spent many years in jail because of their beliefs." In an interview with Gulf News, in response to the question of whether she might become a candidate in the next parliamentary elections (February 2004) or even become a presidential candidate in 2005, she echoed the same sentiment:
I am a human rights militant and a lawyer and have no other agenda. I can tell you that I have no plans to stand for elections. The prize given to me shows that the method I have used in the past two decades has been the right one. I am the friend of the powerless, the voice of the voiceless. I must prove that I am worthy of the honor bestowed upon me.
Her deep commitment to improving women's rights and children's rights is laid down systematically in her eleven books, including History and Document Of Human Rights in Iran (1994), Modernity and Tradition in the Iranian Legal System (co-authored, 1996), and The Rights of the Child: A Survey of Legal Aspects elf Children's Rights in Iran (fifth ed., 1999). Ebadi has constantly called into question the seventh-century view of women and has advocated a new strand of cosmopolitanism that embraces women's rights based on ijtihad (autonomous reasoning). She has argued that ijtihad is compatible with the provisions of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The most obvious discrepancies between Islamic laws and CEDAW relate to adulthood age, blood money (diyah), and the witnessing rule, which equates two female witnesses with one male witness in the courts.
Many Iranian feminists insist that it is important that those for whom international rules and standards of human rights are to be enforced regard them not as imposed from outside, but rather as corresponding and compatible with their own values. International covenants and forums have succeeded in eliminating some, if not all, discrimination in the field of employment. Muslim feminists suggest that women can strengthen and apply international pacts and monitoring bodies to overcome the impediments to reproductive health and rights.
According to Iranian civil law, men reach puberty at age fifteen and women at age nine. There is considerable age difference between males and females in determining legal eligibility for marriage. This contradicts the universal standards of human rights, which require equality in all matters related to marriage and family relations. Likewise, this definition of puberty entails different criminal responsibilities for the same criminal act. Ebadi has worked hard to raise the puberty age for girls and boys, arguing that this definition of puberty entails different criminal responsibilities for the same criminal act. If a fourteen-year-old boy commits a crime, he will be exonerated from any criminal responsibility, but if the same crime is committed by a ten-year-old girl, she will be held accountable.
Similarly, marriage before reaching the age of puberty is possible through legal means. According to Iranian civil law, a father and his family have the right to enter into a marriage contract regarding an infant. Note 1 of Article 1041 of the Civil Law of Iran states: "Signing the marriage contract of a child, who has not yet reached puberty, by permission of his/her father or father's father is correct provided that the interests of the child are taken into consideration." Only the father and his side of the family will be in a legal position to cancel such a marriage if they decide that it compromises the child's welfare. The child had no say in subsequently confirming or denying the choice of her husband or his wife.
As a result, a newborn girl may be legally announced as the future wife of a man by her father or her father's father. Ebadi has likened this practice to a form of slavery, arguing that because the Iranian government has joined the Treaties to Abolish Slavery (1904, 1926, and 1956), it is obligated, both formally and legally, to determine a reasonable minimum age for marriage and to require both the husband's and the wife's consent prior to marriage. Because of Ebadi's efforts and those of other female lawyers and human rights advocates such as Mehranghiz Kar, Shahla Laieji, Elahe Kolaee, Mahboobeh Abbasgholizadeh, Nasrin Musaffa, Shahla Sherkat, Zahra Rahnavard, and Fatemeh Haqiqatjoo, the laws have changed, and the puberty age for girls has increased from nine to thirteen. This perhaps is not what lawyers and activists wanted, which was increasing the puberty age to eighteen, but it nevertheless is an improvement over past laws.
Ebadi has questioned the Islamic penal law by demonstrating contradictions in different legal punishments prescribed for murdering one's child. She has argued that if a cruel father abandons his four-year-old child in a desert, causing the helpless child's death, he will be subject to qesas (retribution in the form of blood money). If, however, he wishes to kick his child with the intention of murdering him or her, or if he suspects the child as being an illegitimate offspring of his wife's adulterous relationship with other men and thus kills the child with a rifle, he will not be subject to qesas. If a man helps a woman have an abortion, which would result in the child's death, he will he sentenced to a three-to six-month imprisonment. If, by contrast, the embryo is not killed and grows to become a fourteen-year-old boy or girl and then the father kills him or her intentionally, the father will receive a less severe punishment. How, Ebadi asks, can such flagrant inconsistencies in discretionary punishment law be warranted?
On a broader level, Ebadi has argued that the laws themselves are insufficient. There is a need for mechanisms to implement laws. The mere existence of a good infrastructure for dealing with the law is different from having the tools and mechanisms to deliver. For instance, Ebadi asserts:
The law says that if a woman is beaten up by her husband, she can get a divorce from the courts, but [in the absence of any] welfare system for divorcees, and as long as we do not have secure homes for battered wives, what is the use of having permission to divorce your husband in the first place?
To further underscore the importance of tools and mechanisms to protect the victims of violence, Ebadi asserts that once a woman leaves her husband's house, the next logical question is, "[W]ho is going to take responsibility for a woman who does not work and has no income?"
A Symbol of Peaceful Resistance
Ebadi has denounced the Anglo American invasion of Iraq but has not approved the Islamic Republic's characterization of the U.S. government as a cruel and inhumane regime bent on destroying Islam. Ebadi's call for the release of all political prisoners is widely shared by the Iranian people. Her prize is widely viewed as an essential morale boost and unique victory not only for Iranian women and the democratic and peaceful reform movement in Iran but also for Muslim feminists throughout the world. It will inspire the silent majority of Muslims across the globe who simply want to live in quiet dignity in the post-September 11 era. The conservative establishment can deny neither the actual impact of this award nor the importance of legitimacy and the worldwide support that it has generated thus far.
Known for her espousal of peaceful change and the view that change could come through elections, Ebadi has become a symbol of new reform in Iran. Under the Shah (1953-79), Ebadi became the nation's first female judge, reaching a pinnacle of her work as an advocate of social justice. Following the 1979 Islamic Revolution, she was barred from such posts because conservative theocrats saw women as unfit for such positions. Ebadi then returned to the mundane business of litigation.
As a lawyer, Ebadi has been jailed. Hojjatoleslam Mohsen Rahami and Ebadi, along with several others, were tried on July 15, 2000, in connection with their attempt to distribute a videotape made of a witness's testimony in which he discussed his activities as a member of a militant group, Ansar-e Hezbollah (Partisans of the Party of God). He implicated senior establishment members in allegations about the group's activities, which include an aborted attempt to murder Hajjatoleslam Abdolla Nouri, a former vice president and interior minister known for his defiance of the conservative clerical regime. The tape was found circulating in public, and as a result, Ebadi and Rahami were arrested on June 27, 2000. They were charged with "disturbing public opinion," "disseminating false information," and other offenses.
Ebadi also has been involved in several high-profile politically sensitive and controversial cases. She was the attorney for the Forouher family in a case in which an ex-minister of labor, Darioush Forouher, and his wife were brutally murdered in their own residence. She also was the attorney for the families of secular and human rights writers and intellectuals who were victims of serial murders from 1999-2000. She helped reveal the identity of the perpetrators of the attack on the student unrest at Tehran University in 1999, in which several students were killed.
Furthermore, Ebadi's efforts to improve human rights conditions for women and children in Iran in the past three decades deeply resonate with the vast majority of Muslim women struggling internally to promote gender equality and to prevent domestic violence. Although overjoyed for such worldwide recognition of an Iranian woman, some Iranian feminists, such as Shadi Sadr, a columnist for Yase'-no, a reformist daily, are highly critical of gradual method reform. Sadr considers the whole legal superstructure a fundamental impediment to women's progress, arguing that changes often are slow and insubstantial. It took many years for the marriageable age of girls to be raised from nine to thirteen. The mehriyeh, a fixed sum that women receive from their husbands in case of divorce, has now been linked to inflation. Girls can now get grants to help them study abroad. All of this indicates that the struggle for reform takes a long time to bring to fruition.
Ebadi has been drawn increasingly, but inevitably, into the country's mundane politics as a voice of reform at a critical juncture in Iranian politics. She has sought election reform while arguing that the Guardian Council's disqualification of liberal candidates for Iran's seventh parliamentarian elections is a denial of basic rights. The Guardian Council's disqualification of one-third of the eighty-two hundred candidates who filed papers to run in the February 20, 2004, legislative elections triggered Iran's most crucial political test and crisis since the 1979 Islamic revolution: "If all disqualified candidates are not reinstated," Ebadi noted, "then the Iranian people will have been denied the right to fair and free elections."
Reconciling Islam and Human Rights
Shortly after winning the award, Ebadi noted that "the Qur'an does not contradict human rights. It is not Islam that is responsible for the failure to honor human rights, but the corrupt regimes in Muslim countries, which to my regret use religion as a justification for their illegitimate government." Espousing reformed Islam, Ebadi has argued that human rights abuses throughout the Muslim world are politically contingent acts perpetrated by state elites, facilitated by a patriarchal culture, and reinforced by Islamic traditionalists and extremists--all in the name of Islam. With regard to the rights of religious minorities, Ebadi consistently has defended the rights of members of the Baha'i faith in Iran, a minority persecuted since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
To impose religion using violence and terrorism, she argues, is tantamount to denying the essence of religion itself. Discrimination on the basis of sex clearly does not follow the general practices and teachings of the Prophet Mohammad and the holy book. During the time of the Prophet, Islam diminished the excessive practices of Jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic era known as the Age of Ignorance) by promoting equality between the two sexes. "We need an interpretation of Islam," Ebadi asserts, "that leaves much more space for women to take action. We need an Islam that is compatible with democracy and one that is respectful of individual rights." Her support of the separation of state and religion is based on the idea that the political space must be open to wide-ranging views and interests. "This position," she argues, "is actually supported by the grand ayatollahs, so it is in conformity with the Shi'ite tradition."
Some Muslim scholars insist that on the basis of the Qur'an, Islam granted women their dignity and equal rights with men in all spheres of life. The Prophet's youngest wife, A'isha, played an active role in the political, legal, and scholastic activities of the Muslim community. In fact, she taught some eminent jurists and scholars about the Qur'an and hadith (the Prophet's teachings and practices) and discussed issues of jurisprudence and commentary with them. (34) Women were allowed to participate in armed revolutionary resistance as well as legal and political decision making in the early Islamic state.
Others argue that the language used in the Qur'an does not create an equality of the sexes. The Qur'an explicitly states that "women shall have rights similar to the rights against them, according to what is equitable, but men have a degree [of superiority] over them (Surah 2:228). The justification lies in the political, economic, and social inequality between the sexes. It is, the argument goes, the difference in economic position between the sexes that makes the man's rights and liabilities slightly greater than the woman's. This justification also is grounded in natural law in that "each sex complements the other: men and women are not equal but equivalent, in that they have particular functions." Although men and women have equal value and worth, according to these Islamic scholars, their social roles and positions differentiate them, that is, "differences between men and women in Islamic law are not based on gender discrimination but on the division of duties and responsibilities suitable to their natural states."
In legal terms, especially in relation to marriage, divorce, and inheritance, men are in a more advantageous position than women. The husband is still granted the unilateral right of divorce. A Muslim woman is not allowed to marry a non-Muslim man; she must obtain the consent of her husband if she wants a divorce (unless circumstances justify the dissolution of the marriage by a judge); and a daughter inherits half the amount that a son receives.
Patriarchal attitudes, cultural norms, and male-centered juristic traditions have played a key role in denying women their basic human rights. There is not a single verse in the Qur'an that says that women cannot be judges, yet in many Muslim countries, juristic customs have prevented women from pursuing such a career. Under the Shah, Ebadi became the nation's first female judge. After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, however, she was barred from this post because the male-dominated clerical establishment viewed women as unfit for practicing as judges. Ebadi has since struggled for the rights of women and children. The advances made so far in areas such as equality before the law and children's rights are small but significant nevertheless.
Ebadi's support for protecting and promoting democratic rights from inside Iranian society serves as a reminder that military confrontation with Iran is counterproductive. The Bush administration's labeling of Iran as a member of the "axis of evil" is seen as evidence of unbending U.S. hostility toward Iran. Ironically, for the same reasons, the hard-liners in Iran have found themselves cornered in the court of world public opinion. Although reformists have embraced this unique opportunity in recognition of her work, the hard-liners have down-played the award--some have even denounced it--as an attempt by the West to undercut the Islamic government and promote secularism in Iran. In the first place, their reaction to Ebadi's Nobel Laureate as interfering in Iran's internal affairs is bound to be a self-defeating tactic. To deny what the rest of the world considers an honor is to undermine the legitimacy of Ebadi's stress on peaceful measures as opposed to a hostile confrontation with the West.
Beleaguered by a multitude of complex problems, Iranian hard-liners face a new reality: human rights and human dignity are far more resilient than raw military power. Muslims throughout the world must seize this moment and build on it. Iranian reformers and their allies in the international community represent the best hope for change in Iran, a change that might be a distant dream but not so unthinkable.
Brian Murphy, "Nobel Prize Winner Returns to Iran," Associated Press, October 14, 2003, http:// www.benadorassociates.com/article/660 (accessed April 23, 2004).
Jack Donnelly, International Human Rights, 2nd ed. (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1998), 153.
Shirin Ebadi, fifty-six-year-old human rights activist and feminist lawyer, graduated in 1969 from the University of Tehran with a law degree. Later, she became Iran's first female judge until the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran stripped her of this post. She became a lawyer, defending women and children. In December 1994, Ebadi was instrumental in establishing a nongovernmental organization called Society for Protecting the Rights of the Child (SPRC) to improve the lives of children in Iran. Among other goals, SPRC raises awareness about the rights of children among the various classes of society in an effort to protect and promote these rights. In 2000, Ebadi was jailed for distributing the confession of a militia member involved in antireformist violence. She then was barred from practicing law. On October 10, 2003, she became the first Muslim woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
See comments by prominent Iranian feminist Haleh Esfandiari of the Middle East Project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC, in Laura Wides, "U.S. Iranians Shocked, Overjoyed at Nobel Peace Prize Selection," Mercury News, October 11,2003, http://www. bayarea.com/(accessed October 31, 2003).
See comments made by Sadeq Zibakalam, "Iranians' Other Choices for Nobel Peace Prize." Shargh Newspaper November 2003, http://www. shargbnewspaper.com/82-8-1/political.htm (accessed November 12, 2003). Zibakalam specifically mentioned Abbas Amirentezam, who has spent nearly twenty-five years behind the Ivin's bars, as the most qualified candidate for the Nobel Peace Laureate.
Ervand Abrahamian, "The Making of the Modern Iran," in Introduction to Comparative Politics, ed. Mark Kesselman, Joel Krieger, and William A. Joseph, 3d ed., 527-618 (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2004); see p. 612.
Quoted in Sara Haeri, "Ayatollahs Grin and Bear Peace Award," Asia Times Online, October 15, 2003, http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/ EJ15AK01.html (accessed October 17, 2003).
Simon W. Murden, Islam, the Middle East, and the New Global Hegemony (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2002), 177-79.
Omid Safi, "What Shirin Ebadi's Nobel Means to Progressive Muslims," Muslim Wakeup, http:// www.muslimwakeup.com/mainarchive/000242.php (accessed October 18, 2003).
Special Report: Women in Iran, "Shorn of Dignity and Equality," The Economist, October 18, 2003, 23-25. See p. 25.
Ali Akbar Dareini, "Iran Nobel Winner Inspired by Sufferers" Yahoo News, October 29, 2003, http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid= 540&e=/ap/20031029/ap_on_re_mi)ea/iran_nobel_winner (accessed October 29, 2003).
Interview with Amir Taheri, "'Peaceful Reform Iran's Only Option," Gulf News, online ed., Dubai, October 30, 2003, http://www.gulf-news. com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=101616 (accessed October 30, 2003).
Mahmood Monshipouri, "The Politics of Culture and Human Rights in Iran: Globalizing and Localizing Dynamics," in Constructing Human Rights in the Age of Globalization, ed. Mahmood Monshipouri, Neil Englehart, Andrew J. Nathan, and Kavita Philip, 113-44 (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2003); see p. 132.
Nasrin Musaffa, "International Rules for Women's Rights: A Challenge of Values," in Islamic Views on Human Rights: Viewpoints of Iranian Scholars, Organization for Islamic Culture and Communications, 191-208 (Tehran: Alhoda Publishers, 2001), 208.
Zahra Davar, "Independence and Economic Rights of Women," in Islamic Views on Human Rights: Viewpoints of Iranian Scholars, Organization for Islamic Culture and Communications, 209-27 (Tehran: Alhoda Publishers, 2001), 224.
Susan Pasgar, "Reproductive Health and Rights," in Islamic Views on Human Rights: Viewpoints of Iranian Scholars, Organization for Islamic Culture and Communications, 229-51 (Tehran: Alhoda Publishers, 2001), 237.
Mehranghiz Kar, Eliminating Discrimination Against Women: A Comparison of the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women with the Iran's Domestic Laws (Tehran: Parvin, 1999), 334.
Mohammad Zairmaran and Shirin Ebadi, Modernity, and Tradition in the Iranian Legal System (Tehran: Gangedanesh, 1996), 247.
Shirin Ebadi, "Abolishing Slavery in Any Form," trans. Hamid Marashi, http://www. Iranianchildren.org/articles.html (accessed October 17, 2003).
Shirin Ebadi, History and Documentation of Human Rights in Iran (Tehran: Roshangaran, 1994), 101-02.
Shirin Ebadi, "The Legal Punishment for Murdering One's Child," trans. Hamid Marashi, http://www.Iranianchildren.org/articles.html (accessed October 17, 2003).
"Iran: Interview with Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi," UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, http://www.IRINnews.org (accessed October 27, 2003).
International Iran Times, October 24, 2003, 2.
Omid Safi, "What Shirin Ebadi's Nobel Means to Progressive Muslims," Muslim Wakeup, http:// www.muslimwakeup.com/mainarchive/000242.php (accessed October 18, 2003).
See "Iran: A Legal System that fails to Protect Freedom of Expression and Association," Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Iran, http://www.polpiran.com/Iran.htm (accessed October 17, 2003).
"Shorn of Dignity and Equality," 24.
Ali Akbar Dareini. "Nobel Winner Seeks Iran Election Reform," Yahoo News, http://story.news. yahoo.com/news?templ=story&u=/ap/20040129/ ap_on_re_mi_ea/iran_ele (accessed January 29, 2004).
Quoted in International Iran Times, October 17, 2003, 1, 3.
See Marie Valla, "The Last World: Shirin Ebadi, Democracy and Islam," Newsweek International, http://www.msnbc.com/new/979275.asp (accessed October 23, 2003).
Interview with Amir Taheri, "Peaceful Reform Iran's Only Option," Gulf News, online ed., Dubai, October 30, 2003, http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/ news.asp?ArticleID=101616 (accessed October 30, 2003).
Leila P. Sayeh and Adriaen M. Morse Jr., "Islam and the Treatment of Women: An Incomplete Understanding of Gradualism," Texas International Law Journal 34, no. 2 (Spring 1995): 311-34; see p. 322.
Ayes Kadioglu, "Women's Subordination in Turkey: Is Islam Really the Villain?" Middle East Journal 48, no. 4 (Autumn 1994): 656-60; see p. 665.
V. T. Thamilmaran, Human Rights in the Third World Perspective (New Delhi: Har-Anand Publications, 1992), 45.
Hossein Mehrpour, "Islam and Human Rights," Iranian Journal of International Affairs 8, no. 4 (Winter 1996/97): 729-60; see p. 754.
Mahmood Monshipouri, "The Muslim World Half a Century After the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Progress and Obstacles," Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights 16. no. 3 (September 1998): 287-314; see p. 301.
Amin Saikal, "Democracy and Peace in Iran and Iraq," in Democratization in the Middle East: Experiences, Struggles, Challenges, ed. Amin Saikal and Albrecht Schnabel, 166-82 (New York: UN University Press, 2003); see p. 176.
See "Iran Nobel Winner Gets Hero's Welcome," BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/ middle_east/3192024.stm (accessed October 17, 2003).