The hidden reality of violence against women in Iran

Hillary Rodham Clinton: “Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights, once and for all. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America. This is no simple reform. It really is a revolution.”

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Iranian women endure systematic gender discrimination as second class citizens in Iran, they are deprived of fundamental rights. Of course, the situation of Iranian women is slightly better than their peers in Middle-East, but, they undergo many hardships under both Sharia Laws and backward traditions. Women suffer social inequalities such as lack of an appropriate job, not allowing to choose desired clothes, forced marriage in traditional cities, verbal and physical sexual harassment, and insecurity during hours of the day. Only about three million and 500 thousand women are among the 22 million employed in Iran, according to Iran Statistics Center reports in 2017. Most of the people who commit suicide are women. More than 10% of the students deprived of education are girls between 6 and 17 years old, ISNA declared on October 2014. At least 50% of girls in marginalized area across Iran are deprived of education, deputy minister of education said in 2017.

In 2017, Iranian news agencies revealed details of a domestic violence case in which a man tortured his wife and two daughters for 21 days. He jailed his wife and daughters at house and brutally tortured them. She was frequently thrown in a metal box and her addicted husband fired a gun under the box, the victim told the state-run news agency ISNA. She also added that her naked body was often burnt by an ignited cloths. Her attorney Ms. Mohebi said that there are no punishments for gender violence against women under the laws in Iran.

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Iranian women have been always complaining of harassment during the day in the streets, public places, bus and metro. In pointing out that women are not even immune from religious people with traditional viewpoints, she says: “so many times I’ve been warned and blamed by women in Islamic dress that it’s because of the way I am dressing.”

Arezou also noted forced marriage in which women and young girls are being forced by their families to get married because the families will benefit from this marriage while these women become the victims of abuse. Many forced marriages occur to stop the bloodshed and retribution and ending sectarian strife, although these marriages rarely occur in Iran and usually happen in far-flung village.


Sima considered wrong traditions of old attitudes in methods of household, marriage, raising children as other problems of women and said: following wrong ancestral traditions is something very wrong and senseless, because society is going forward and we cannot confront today’s standards with the old standards.

Looking at women around the world has become very annoying to women, but this is the reality in backward and Muslim countries.

Maryam pointed out harassment by some tutors or doctors and said “some male doctors when they are examining touch our organs in an unusual way and out of medical methods.” She talked about her own personal experience when she had an injection in the buttock, and was harassed by the personnel of the injection section. She also mentioned her experience and those of peers with verbal and physical harassment while visiting internal medicine and women’s physicians. She continued and said that many teenage or toddler girls were abused by male relatives, by acts such as kissing the lips or licking their genitals. And after revealing the incident, the families have remained silent to save their face, this issue is continuing to seriously threaten women. She also explained her bitter experience at the airport gate during a physical inspection and acknowledged that many of her friends had the same experience being abused at the gate inspections.

Many women are at risk of exposure to sexual harassment by co-workers or their employers in the workplace. Many women speak about being asked for closer or sexual relationships by their employers and they have to accept these suggestions or they will be fired. Many employers misuse their positions to achieve their goals and put their female employees under pressure to have relationships with them.

Iranian women are often abused in public transport such as buses, subways and taxis. Most of the women considered lack of codified rules for sexual violence against women as the major reason of sexual harassment. There is no significant law against sexual violence to support women against harassment.

Several young women felt senselessly victimized by acid throwing (Honor Related Violence). A series of acid attacks on women in the city of Isfahan happened around October 2014, raised fears and prompted rumors that the victims were targeted for not being properly veiled (Islamic dress). The Islamic vigilantes riding on motorbikes threw acid in at least four women’s faces in Isfahan, but the Media put the number as high as eight.

Maryam Ayubi, an alleged adulteress, was stoned to death while strapped to a stretcher in 2001.

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Official laws against women in Iran

According to Iran’s Civil Code, girls should have their father’s consent, if they want to marry, it means that there is no marriage if the father withholds his consent. Further, Father can force her 13-year-old daughter into marriage if he wishes. It leads girl’s marriage to reach a critical point.

Women are not considered as the head of family.

According to the current laws in Iran, men can divorce their wives more easily. But, women have difficulties to divorce and they should file a long list of evidences to prove that the man is not qualified to continue wedlock. 

Women have no rights for guardianship of their children. Mothers can take care of their children or being the custodian, but, they are not allowed to have the rights for guardianship of their children. Mothers cannot take guardianship of their children even in the case of death/absence of the father, and the rights of guardianship of children will be given to the grandfather.

Women have the rights to keep their children (until the children are under 7 years old) after divorce, but, they will lose the custody if they remarry before children reach seven.

Based on Iran’s Islamic law, men can have four permanent wives and unbounded number of temporary wives. Married women would be sentenced to death penalty if they were in partnership with another man.

Based on the laws in Iran, children’s citizenship is under her/his father’s nationality, not mother. So, the Iranian women cannot get Iranian ID card for their children if they marry with foreigners.

Women lose their rights for education after marriage expect with the consent of the spouse. Husband has the rights to ban his wife from work if he wishes. Husband has the rights to seek court order on grounds of conjugal disobedience while his wife works in different city and ask to end employment or get permission to remarry. No women have the rights to become president in Iran, according to the laws that allow only men (Rejal) to chair the high-ranked official seats.

Women’s blood money (compensation, Diyyah in Persian and Arabic) is as half of the men’s. In a car accident, the cost of blood money that women receive as compensation is half of the compensation for male embryo, if women were pregnant.

Women receive 50% less than their brothers from the inheritance, if father/mother pass away. Based on this rule, if husband pass away, the women receive 50% less than their male-children or husband’s father.

Women’s credibility of witnessing at court is considered as half of men. And, no women can become a judge in Iran under Islamic laws, which exist in the country. They can only play a role as advisor of a male judge even if they have law degree, or they can work as investigation judge, but, without the rights to issue verdict.

Women have no rights to obtain a passport to travel without husband/father permission, and, the husband/father can confiscate women’s passport to ban from travelling abroad. The law allows all husbands to prevent their wives from travelling abroad.

The report was wrriten for The Boroujerdi Civil Rights Group on  Monday, May 9, 2016, updated in November, 2018. 

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