Protecting Women's Rights in Iran

This 8-session course covers the legal and social obstacles Iranian women face in their struggle for equality. Areas of focus include the Constitution’s view towards women, a woman’s right to her body, freedom of movement, rights in marriage and divorce, protecting wives’ rights in marriage contracts, gender discrimination in the criminal law and women's access to leadership and decision making positions. The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights are discussed, while analyzing violations of the rights of Iranian women.

Course Outline

Tavaana Publication Click here to download the PDF manual for "Protecting Women's Rights in Iran."

Lecture 1 – Women’s Rights and the Constitution

Explore the Iranian Constitution from a human rights perspective and look at how its articles address the status of women. While the framers of the Constitution claimed that equal rights would be granted to men and women, the Constitution subjugates women to sharia law and emphasizes the role of women as wives and mothers, reviving traditional views regarding the status of women as second-class citizens.

Lecture 2 – Woman’s Right to her Body

In Iran, a woman’s right to her body is heavily threatened by the government’s enforcement of the mandatory hijab, rampant sexual harassment, violence inside and outside the home, honor killings, and a range of other gender-based crimes.

Lecture 3 – Right to Freedom of Movement

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, one of the fundamental human rights is the right to freedom of movement. In this session, freedom of movement in international instruments and Iran law is dicussed.

Lecture 4 – Women’s Rights in Marriage

In Iran, marriage laws empower the husband so that he can have multiple wives, while the woman is forced into the subjugating role of raising children and little else. Learn about Iranian laws pertaining to marriage, including the age of marital consent (originally nine, but later raised to 13), forced marriages, financial dependence, and a wife’s right to work and travel.

Lecture 5 – Women’s Rights in Divorce

The Iranian legal and judicial system has established an unequal system of divorce that privileges men. It is extremely difficult for women in Iran to get a divorce, because they have to prove to a judge that they are in immediate danger or are subject to frequent domestic violence. In situations where women are granted a divorce, the Iranian court system automatically grants custody of boys and girls older than seven to the father, making the divorce process less than equal for women.

Lecture 6 – Shoroot Zemn Aghd

Iranian women can best protect their rights when getting married by entering a marriage contract by stipulating their own “Shoroot Zemn Aghd”, which are a series of conditions that can be added to a marriage contract to supplement state laws. You will learn how to identify the religious and legal solutions that can benefit women in marriage and divorce.

Lecture 7 – Gender Discrimination in the Criminal Law

 In Iran Criminal Code, women's rights are violated in different ways. The most significant areas in which women's rights are violated are: age of criminal responsibility, blood money, punishments and evidence in the court.

Lecture 8 – Women’s Access to Leadership

While the Iranian Constitution does not contain any laws barring women from holding top leadership posts in the government, the regime put into place a number of laws, practices and government bodies to reinforce traditional gender roles and bar women from entering positions of leadership, including the presidency and positions as judges. Learn about the different ways that the government excludes women from political and professional leadership roles while learning strategies that will promote women’s empowerment in the world of work.



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