Human Rights

Proposed Laws Would Further Marginalize Women in Iran

Two new proposed laws in Iran designed to marginalize women who don’t bear children will further erode women’s rights and reduce Iranian women to “baby making machines,” according to a new report by Amnesty International published on Wednesday.

One of the laws outlaws voluntary sterilization, which is believed to be the second most common method of birth control in Iran, and “blocks access to information about contraception, denying women the opportunity to make informed decisions about having children.”

The second law instructs all private and public entities to favor men over women and people with children over childless people when hiring for certain jobs. Single women and married, childless women will be officially discriminated against and have the lowest chances of being hired.

Hasiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, said:

“The proposed laws will entrench discriminatory practices and set the rights of women and girls in Iran back by decades. The authorities are promoting a dangerous culture in which women are stripped of key rights and viewed as baby-making machines rather than human beings with fundamental rights to make choices about their own bodies and lives…

The bills reinforce discriminatory stereotypes of women, and mark an unprecedented move by the state to interfere in people’s personal lives. In their zealous quest to project an image of military might and geopolitical strength by attempting to increase birth rates, Iran’s authorities are trampling all over the fundamental rights of women – even the marital bed is not out of bounds.” …

“Sexual violence and discrimination against women in Iran is rife and women in Iran are denied equal rights with respect to marriage, divorce, child custody, inheritance, travel, and even in their choice of clothing.”

A report issued last year by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon blasted the lack of progress for women’s rights under Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, “despite pledges made by the president during his campaign and after his swearing in” in 2013. Canadian MP and human rights activist Irwin Cotler also observed in September last year that women were continuing to suffer from inequality in Iran.

The oppression of women in Iran was highlighted by two high-profile cases last year. In October, a 26-year-old woman, Reyhaneh Jabbari, was hanged, despite international protests, after being convicted in a trial, riddled with irregularities, of killing her attempted rapist. Ghoncheh Ghavami, a British-Iranian law student, was jailed (though she was later released on bail) for attempting to watch a men’s volleyball game.

[Photo: Khashayar Elyassi / Flickr ]