The Islamic State of Iran and Gender Discrimination

Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-American political scientist and scholar, is president of the International American Council and serves on the board of the Harvard International Review at Harvard University. Rafizadeh is also a former senior fellow at the Nonviolence International Organization based in Washington, DC and is a member of the Gulf project at Columbia University. He can be reached at rafizadeh@fas.harvard.edu. Follow Rafizadeh at @majidrafizadeh.


Woman Hanging Iran 2Only 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 basic civil rights in Iran as well.

To be more specific, some of the laws in the Islamic Republic 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. 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, which states: “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 no restriction on the number of wives a man can have. Though many follow Quranic verses that allow four wives, under the Shia Islamic belief system, 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.

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  • Jeff Thomas

    This is insanity.

  • Bamaguje

    Yet the lamestream media and leftist academia pile hatefully on democratic Israel which respects gender equality. But the same politically correct dhimmis let Islamist Iran get away with heinous atrocities.

    • aldisiij367

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  • aggreen1

    ***Feminists in the U.S. don’t care about this. They are too busy promoting the killing of unborn babies!

  • The Facts

    One witnesses the same degree of intergender discrimination at a Hillel House meeting room as described in this article, complete with separate entrances for men and for women.

    • http://www.clarespark.com/ Clare Spark

      Oh please, did you read the article? Or, for a distinction that may help you think more precisely, see http://clarespark.com/2013/03/18/babel-vs-sinai/, “Babel versus Sinai.”

      • Wolfthatknowsall

        Good article, Clare.

      • The Facts

        Yes, I read the article. And I read your floundering attempts to repackage old Cultural Criticism and Jewish navel-gazing as new material as well. My eyes are still dried out.

        • iluvisrael

          so is your brain and soul, if you ever had one

    • john spielman

      how many women have the Hillel house hanged or stoned?

      • The Facts

        I don’t know. About as many as are hanged or stoned in American Islamic Centers.

        • Softly Bob

          American Islamic Centers are in America, a country which has laws against hanging and stoning to death – so that was a waste of a comment wasn’t it?

          • The Facts

            I guess the whole Charles Jacobs attack on NY, Boston, and Murfreesboro mosques is a big waste of time too, then. Thanks.

          • Softly Bob

            Mosques are enemy headquarters. If they had the power now they would be inflicting Sharia law on all of us.

          • Notalibfool

            Which is why we need to stand up NOW and resist it.

            I for one reject Sharia and will continue to do so regardless of the consequences.

          • Notalibfool

            Oh, that’s all just blowback for how Muslims have treated us infidels for the past 1,400 years. Perfectly excusable.

          • Notalibfool

            Maybe no one has been hanged or stoned in American Islamic centers…….YET.

    • iluvisrael

      right – soon those zany joos will be performing female genital mutilation, honor killings, forced marriages between old geezers and five year old girls – oh wait, that’s islam

  • Guest

    It isn’t about caring for women’s rights. They’re treated WORSE than dogs in Iran. I wish our president would take off his rose colored glasses and ask himself, would he want either of his daughters married to one of these men and living in Iran? Don’t think so.So why can he “trust” that type of leader? And if Rouhni is a “moderate”, I’d hate to see an extremist.

  • jakespoon

    There are no “moderate” ayatollahs. They don’t even bother to laugh up their sleeves anymore,they laugh right in our face.

  • Walter Sieruk

    The policies towards females of this Islamic regime of Iran does reflect extreme misogyny of Islam. Which is taught in the Quran,Sura 2:221,223, 282. 4;3,11.Which are just some of many examples As Brigitte Gabriel exposes in her book THEY MUST BE STOPPED. “Across the Muslim world, even in moderate Islamic countries…women’s rights are almost nonexistent…women in Islam are considered unclean, deemed inferior even to dirt.’

  • ObamaYoMoma

    There isn’t a Muslim majority place in the world that embraces gender and non-Muslim infidel equality for that matter. Women and non-Muslim infidels are always treated as less than human throughout the Islamic world.

  • http://www.twitter.com/changeirannow Change Iran Now

    Iran has been remade by these clerical extremists to have economic despair and brutal human rights repression. The country has a long and notorious history for the torture and severe treatment of its political prisoners and dissenters. It’s an unfortunate aspect of the rule under Iran’s mullahs who like any other tyrant are more concerned with preserving their power and hold over the people than in
    governing and leading them into a better future.

  • Rosasolis

    It seems as if the She-iet Ayatollah leaders in Iran and the Sunny Imams in the
    the rest of Middle-east countries, have become very fearful and jealous of all
    the thousands of successful, intelligent and hard-working women everywhere,
    in our western civilization! They have become afraid of promising young girls like
    Malala in Pakistan who love education. While many thousands of talented women
    are studying, working, and achieving success in every field imaginable, including the military, these crazed old Ayatollah codgers, want the Islam to take over
    the Whole World. So they begin right at home, and force all their women and girls
    to have just one goal in life: to be married-off as soon as possible. in order
    to produce many sons for the Jihad! While we have women in the highest
    functions: professors, musicians and conductors, scientists, surgeons, astronauts,
    admirals and generals….these Ayatollah’s have been keeping their women and
    girls as slaves. They refuse to see women as half of their population.
    During these days of enlightenment, and equality between men and women,
    these Ayatollahs are forcing a primitive way of life on their female slaves
    which is even worse than the Middle-Ages! And because of the struggle
    for domination between the She-iets and the Sunnies, the situation in the
    Middle-east and Africa will only worsen, while over-population, poverty and malnutricion, increases.
    The problems faced by cruelty against girls and women from Islamic families
    are increasing daily all over Europe. The Safe-houses are full of frightened
    young girls, who have been forced to give up their education or job, in order
    to be married-off to some older man, who they did not ever meet!
    Here in Netherlands, young unemployed teen-age boys are being sent out
    to Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Nigeria, to be trained for the Jihad. Our officials
    at Schiphol airport are doing their best to confiscate their (false) passports,
    and send them home to their large families in Amsterdam, Rotterdam,
    The Hague, and Utrecht.

  • Fritz Kohlhaas

    I despise the anti-Semitic/leftist/progressive scum. They are dreck of the worst
    sort!!!

  • MostlyDisagree

    The conservative fundamentalist redneck Christians have similar rules that they ignore thank Zeus. 1 Timothy 2, 1 Corinthians 11:3-5…woman are subservient to men and termed the “weaker vessel”. They are not to adorn themselves with fine clothing or jewels. They are to cover their heads if prophesying. Men are allowed to marry multiple women, but not vice versa.

    And while we’re at it…hey Duck Dynasty dude…stop preaching you hypocrite while you have long hair 1 Corinthians 11:14 “Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him”