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Given to desire on the quest for
universal social work (Gray, & Fook 2004), and humanitarian goals of social
work profession to create an equal society, many of methods and theories of
social work which have been shaped in Euro-American models, are taught,
practiced and encouraged in democratic western countries (Fulcher, 2003), are
not possible to practice in dictatorship countries such as Islamic Republic of
Iran. Because there is a defined for right and wrong way of living in people’s
lifestyle, in which people cannot choose their options freely. For example,
LGBTQ community and people with different religious beliefs do not have any
social rights and even they cannot access to regular education system such as
Bahai community. Obviously, in such situation, social workers are faced with
systemic and organized oppression on marginalized people and they are not able
to bring any changes in their client’s life because the frameworks and social
policies are regulated based on Islamic republic constitution. Belonging to
LGBTQ community or religion minorities or any other ideas which are not allied
with government policies are not only not accepted but deserved to punishment.
Hence, critical social work and anti-oppressive practice which challenges the
government’s policies and structures are not taught and operated in Iran, but
in Canadian context not only are they taught, but also encouraged to uphold by
social workers and those theories are among the fundamental methods and
perspective to reduce oppression from oppressed people.

The combination of anti-oppression
practice and Code of Ethics in Canadian social work has created a secure
environment for clients and social workers and has helped both parties to act
confidently and independently. Whereas in Islamic republic the ethical charter
regulated by the government, has deprived the parties of any freedom of action
and independence decision. The ignorance of social issues and linking the
social problems to the individual decisions have blocked all ways for helping
people by social workers through anti-oppressive method. Therefore, social
workers only give guidance, advice, and referral, unfortunately, the
authorities and official’s view on social pathology is that the people’ action
resulted to their social problems, and their current situation is the result of
their own mistakes and wrong decision (Alipour, Khankeh, Fekrazad, Kamali,
Rafiey, & Ahmadi, 2015). For example, in the welfare state, the adopted and
regulated policies are designed in a way that high percentage of government’s
assistance is provided to those who are not in need but dependent on the
government, and Islamic regime uses them to suppression of opposition in
critical situations.

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In particular social issues such as
violence against women and their mental health status that I have experience
and worked for many years, are not addressed based on the conservative methods.
The extent of discrimination against women in Iran is such that at least it
takes a long time to inform and compile equal rights. The oppression of women
in Iran is due to the overwhelming control of women by the state and
involvement in their most personal aspect of their lives. (Abdmolaei, 2014).
This oppression is systemic and adopted by the government and promoted by
government propaganda media. Considering the differences in attitudes towards
women in Canadian society and the barbaric attitude of the Islamic government
to women in Iran, analysis of violence against women and social work methods
are fully different. In Iranian society women and activists are fighting for
women’s basic rights and social workers are unable to provide any realistic and
structural changes for women’s social issues. For example, in Canadian social
work, raising the voice of violence survivors is an important method to remove
the feeling of shame and guilt from women, but in Iran, the victims of violence
prefer to remain silent due to their shame and social consequences, they know
that their voice is not heard by the authorities. In Canadian society which
legislative institutions are based on democracy and no one is above the law,
lawmakers have tried to eliminate gender and race discrimination by reforming
the laws. Therefore, activist and feminist movements initiated to play the more
effective role in shaping policies to improve women’s lives because the voice
of their objection is heard (Hick, 2010) and also CASW influences government
through consultations, position statements and the presentation of briefs(Yee
Lecture, 2017),but in Iranian society, in the absence of democratic
institutions and political parties, leaders are implementing their policies to
integrate society and eliminate all kind of multiplicity and diversity.

As a social worker, working in such
situation requires to comply the Islamism’s roles and having no active role in
formulating social welfare policies, while in Canadian society, social workers
can influence the provincial and municipal polities to help their clients and
marginalized people because of the people’s life matters. Violence against
women in Iran has a political and governmental dimension in addition to family
and relatives. Generally, women in Iran have been destitute of many their basic
rights not only because of male dominance beliefs but also from extensive
biased policies that affect their lives from birth to death (Mohammadi, 2007).
Women have always been looked as second-tier members of society (Mohammadi,
2007). When I was working with women in Iran, I encountered women rights
violation which not only happens in private life but also in public more
severely, some of the examples of right violation that make social workers
unable to empower or improve their client’s life are; the inability of women to
work, divorce or travel or leave the house without their husband or male
relative’s permission, rejection of the right of to obtain custody of children,
banning abortion except in emergency conditions, prohibiting  women from taking part in top-ranked
positions in the juridical system (Mohammadi, 2007). It is very clear that it
is not possible to use any progressive social work’s methods in this situation,
although the only way to battle with this massive oppression is creating a
political environment with the diversity of political parties and acceptance of
human rights and also respect for individual’s private life. In Canadian social
work Code of Ethics is the core of morals and values of social work profession
and social workers respect the client’s decision and they believe that their
clients are capable of finding their solutions (Hick, 2010) while in Iran one
of the main duties of social workers is to find a solution and giving advice to
their clients.  For example, women with
mental health issues and substance abuse, are encouraged and forced to quit and
not using drugs, otherwise they will face with the consequences of their
“wrong” decision, while in Canadian social work drug users are encouraged to
going to harm reduction site to prevent any possible harm and no one forced
them to quit from their addiction.

All these differences between Canadian
social work and practice social work in Iran are due to the free political
environment and the possibility of criticizing the government institutions in
Canada. Whereas in Iran lack of freedom of expression and the security
environment and fear from the consequences of criticism of the government
resulted in that the majority of people turned into silence, which makes it
impossible to bring any reform or structural changes. (Mohammadi, 2007). In
Canadian social work, the feminist approach is one of the effective methods in
battle towards violence against women, because social work profession
influenced by feminist movements (Hick, 2010). While in there are some
weaknesses in Iranian feminist groups, for example, they do not have the
general discussion about their strategy and the literature used by feminist
does not embrace the fundamental women’s socio-cultural and socio-political
problems. Since there is not even a system for collecting information and
combating the violation of women’s rights in Iran (Mohammadi, 2007). In the
absence of active political groups and women’s rights activists in Iran and
also regulated anti-women laws, the organized violence both in private life and
public level become a social norm (Abdmolaei, 2014). Although in the Islamic
Republic, women are faced with extreme systemic oppression but they found
specific ways for resistance, for example, “fashion-resistance” is an alternative
popular dress code among Iranian women to challenge the ideology of “hijab” and
restrictive Islamic dress (Abdmolaei, 2014). Also, social workers as a
professional group who are working in the Islamic republic, are burning out
because they are faced with the extreme hazard of stress and tension due to
lack of resources, inability to empower their clients properly, mismanagement
in macro and mezzo level and corrupted policymakers (Padyab, Richter, Nygren
& Ghazinour, 2013). Another major difference in the field of social work in
Iran is lack of security and violence in the workplace, in other words social
workers are exposed to the threat not only from their clients due to lack of
resources and inadequate services, (Padyab, Ghazinour, Richter, 2013), but also
from their supervisors due to standing for justice and client’s rights that I
have personally experienced.

In the Canadian context, practicing
social work would be completely different from my home country. During IESW
bridging program, I expanded my knowledge and familiarity about the different
social work theories, Code of Ethics and incorporating anti-oppressive method
in social work, although I had experience in social work and worked with
different population but critical social work and anti-oppression practice
which is taught and encouraged in social work schools had a significant impact
on me.  The strength of Canadian social
work is that the social workers and social activist can influence the federal
or provincial social policies, it might not have happened quickly but they can
do advocacy about the social issues and policies that help and improve
marginalized and oppressed people’s life (Hick, 2010). The role of social
workers to address social challenges in multicultural and diverse society of
Canada shown as form of policy involvement (Stevens, 2006), which has an
effective impact on social reforms and have improved the situation of oppressed
people such as LGBTQ community, advocacy for harm reduction sites,

HIV families, homelessness and etc.
The autonomy of social workers in the workplace has led to incorporate
anti-oppression practice and progressive theories to address social issues to
reduce oppression from vulnerable people, in which has profoundly affected me.
Because I came from a country that always has to work in the government’s
defined framework and not be allowed to enter the political sphere. The first
time when I face with the term of “personal is political” in Mullaly (2010) I
understood the vast scope of social worker’s function in the well-being of the
community, while the profession of social work has been silent (Bisman, 2004)
over the past 40 years in Iran, and by appointing incompetence people at the
head of welfare organization and promoting follow up on government policies,
the profession has gone away from its mission. Obviously, every concept of
Canadian social work was new to me and I have learned about my social location
(Carniol & Delvalle, 2010) in which can impact my worldview on social
issues, also I explored that how can I leave my biases and the role of my
biases in social work practice which I had never aware of that because the
Islamic government is formed based on isms and people are targeted by the
government media that encourages to hatred.

 Difference between Code of Ethics in Canada
and the moral chart in Iran was new to me, in Canadian social work Code of
Ethics is one of the pillars of the profession of social work and discussed in
a national level. Although the Code of Ethics criticized by (Mullaly, 2010),
which has been removed from its main objective goal of perusing social justice
but still compare with existing moral chart in Iran which attempts to eliminate
the independence and spirit of following social justice and service to humanity
is considered as my new achievement. Another attainment of this academic course
was not only increasing my knowledge and understanding about an anti-oppression
method and incorporating in daily practice but improve the skills of respect
the client’s choices and decisions even though are against my personal values
and biases. All endeavors of social workers in Canadian society is to bring
changes in society in a way that improving people’s life, they are not
considered to maintain the status quo in the cost of marginalized people’s
rights, this opens a new horizon on my understanding about working within the
system and against the system (Mullaly, 2010) to follow social justice. The
role of social workers in Canadian context which is helping clients to
contextualize their problems and encouraged them to express disagreement about
practitioners, the intervention that social workers might suggest but they are
not the problem solver and only presenting facts (Mullaly, 2007) imply the
individuals make their decision and showing alternative options is a new
context for the writer of this paper.

Last but not least new opportunity in
Canadian social work that I had during this academic course and was completely
new for me was learning about LGBTQ community, that I never had the chance to
talk freely and knowing about their issues in my home country. While in Canada,
I can freely participate in LGBTQ workshops which are designed for social
workers and other practitioners to improve their knowledge and skills for
helping LGBTQ members. These achievements have not happened overnight in
Canada, it happened due to continuous attempts of social workers and social
activist who made a safer environment for marginalized people and helped to
remove discrimination and promote justice and equality.

The importance of applying the
anti-oppressive approach in social work is necessary for many reasons, the
challenges of social work are overwhelming because we are faced with numerous
issues which are rooted in colonialism and globalization and requires an
international social work and the conservative theory is not able to address
these new challenges (Razack, & Badwall, (2006). Therefore, anti-oppressive
perspective is able to become the main discourse to answer to worldwide issues
(Razack, & Badwall, (2006). However, in the current situation that we are
living in the diverse and multicultural society in order to address the issues
of such community, it requires to practice through critical lenses and
incorporate anti-oppressive perspective. (Razack, & Badwall, (2006). The
critical point of view on complex social issues which are rooted in structural
oppression and power relation 

The complexity of social issues and
social location of vulnerable people in different intersectionalities, resulted
in immediate response to their needs and incorporating anti-oppressive approach
seems more necessary (Razack, & Badwall, (2006). Consciousness-raising
which is embedded in anti-oppression practice, developing tactics of
resistance, challenging dominant dialogues and encouraging alternative
discourses in order to tackle destructive stereotypes are integral parts of AOP
approach in which address the issue in a current challenging situation
(Mullaly, 2010). When we look at the dynamic of oppression, it can be understood
that the dominant discourse in society tries to take the control of power
relations in order to maintain the status quo and send the alternatives options
to the margin. For this reason, social workers are encouraged to practice AOP
to set egalitarian values and replacing dominant with equality. The necessity
of upholding AOP in social work practice is to decrease social problems by
exploring the roots and cause of social issues and finding alternative services
to relate the “personal with the political” (Mullaly, 2010) to take the control
of their future.

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