Women's Rights & Movements in IranThe Islamic State of Iran and gender discrimination

The Islamic State of Iran and gender discrimination

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Front Page: Only a few days after a United Nations Special Rapporteurs announcement on the situation of human rights in Iran, a woman was hanged by the Iranian regime in the Lorestan province, as the local media reported.

 

Front Page Magazine

By Majid Rafizadeh

Only a few days after a United Nations Special Rapporteurs announcement on the situation of human rights in Iran, a woman was hanged by the Iranian regime in the Lorestan province, as the local media reported.

Even with the seemingly moderate President Hassan Rouhani leading the Islamic Republic of Iran, no action has been taken to address the discriminatory legal and social laws regarding women and young girls. Women are not allowed to exercise some basic civil rights in Iran as well.

To be more specific, some of the laws in the Islamic Republic are totally contradict internationally accepted human rights standards, reinforcing the superiority of men over women.

In verse 34 of the Quran, which is increasingly cited by Islamic officials, “men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – advise them; forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them.”

This verse has been applied to various areas of Iranian law. For example, when it comes to criminal law in the Islamic law of Iran, girls can be held criminally responsible at the ages of 8-9 years old, while criminal responsibility for boys begins at 15 years old. So why should girls be regarded as mature adults at 8-9 years old?

If a woman is killed in Iran, her blood money (money the family receives in compensation) is not equal to that of man. Women are worth half of that of a man. For criminal laws, according to Islamic Sharia law, sexual intercourse outside of marriage is punishable through the stoning of men and women. However, evidence indicates that women have been stoned at a greater proportion than men.

Honor killing is still practiced in provinces such as Eilam, Khuzestan, Kordestan, Fars, Lorestan, Azerbaijan, and Kermanshah while the Iranian regime ignores these cases. In addition, a woman’s testimony in court is worth half that of a man’s testimony, based on criminal law.

In addition, while women are required to wear a Hijab, backed by Article 683, “Those women that appear in the streets and public places without the Islamic hijab, shall be sentenced from ten days to two months’ imprisonment or fined from fifty thousand to five hundred thousand Rials”, there is no similar law and penal code for men.

Regarding family law, girls are legally allowed to marry at 8-9 years old, while boys must be at least 15 years old. Further, the father is the natural guardian who can marry off his daughter, even if the girl is an adult, she cannot marry someone on her own. Wives and daughters cannot leave the country without the official permission of their husbands or natural guardian. They also cannot obtain a passport without the consent of their husbands.

Muslim men can marry women from other religions (religions of the book), while women cannot marry a non-Muslim unless the man converts to Islam.

Also under family law, it goes without saying that the woman can only contract one marriage at one time, but there is not restriction on the number of wives a man can have. Though many follow Quranic verses that allow four wives, but under the Shia Islamic belief, a Mut’a (temporary marriage) can provide a loophole.  In Mut’a, Muslim men are allowed contract an unlimited number of temporary marriages, for a fixed period of time.

Article 1105 of the Civil Code states, “In relations between husband and wife, the position of the head of the family exclusively belongs to the husband.”

One of the most appalling laws is Tamkin, meaning submission or obedience. To be more specific, Tamkin has been defined as the full accessibility and unhampered sexual availability of the woman to her husband. Sexual availability is considered a woman’s duty and a man’s right.

When it comes to employment laws, Article 1117 of the Civil Code indicates “The husband can prevent his wife from an occupation or technical profession which is incompatible with the family’s interests or the dignity of him or his wife.” Men can initiate a unilateral divorce.

In family law and inheritance rules, women only receive half as much as their brothers or other male relatives. Even if a husband dies, the wife will receive only one-eighth of the inheritance if she has a child. The law also prevents women from being judges.

The protection of every person’s human rights “without distinction of sex” are enshrined in Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Article 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Hypocritically, while the Islamic Republic of Iran is a signatory of the ICCPR, and while there is a so-called moderate president in power, the discriminatory laws against women remain intact.

 

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-American political scientist and scholar, is president of the International American Council and he serves on the board of Harvard International Review at Harvard University.

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