Author: Farzin Vajihi
From not being allowed to go to the sports Stadium to freedom of clothing and so on, the state discriminates against Iranian women in many ways. Several protests have happened in Iran in the recent past as women and like-minded individuals mount pressure against violations of women’s rights. Iranian women have become more susceptible to human rights abuses compared to men. The Islamic State government has continued to execute codes and regulations targeting women. An increased number of women are victims of violations of their rights. From basic items such as freedom of dressing and association to equal employment, the regime has not stopped but has continued to suppress the peace, dignity and rights of women.
Dress code discrimination is a major issue in Iran. The recent Mahsa protests in the country followed the young girls’ apprehension and death in police custody after failing to wear the hijab. Women have a right over their bodies and to dress. Iranian regime fails to recognize and protect this right by punishing women found not to have worn the hijab. In the pretext of strictly enforcing the Islamic Sharia law, Iranian women are coerced to wear the Islamic hijab in public. Equally, they are coerced to wear the hijab when attending work. Iranian authorities use this mandatory dress code to discriminate against the freedom of Iranian women over their bodies. Iranian women who fail to wear the hijab are in contravention of the authorities’ expectations and are harassed, punished and, in worse case scenarios such as the case of Mahsa, killed.
Iranian authorities suppress women’s right to education and marriage at the right age and a partner of one’s choice. Unfortunately, women in Iran are regarded as second-class citizens. Practices such as underage marriages are common in Iran. A recent UN report written to the Iranian Human Rights Council indicates that the country hosts thousands of marriages involving underage girls ages 10-14 annually. The issue of forced child marriages is a revelation of the attitude of the Iranian authorities toward this practice and its perpetrators. Allowing child marriages involving young girls to take place is a worrying trend since it adversely affects the future of these girls. Unfortunately, the Iranian regime has been reluctant to get vocal and condemn this practice that destroys the future of thousands of Iranian women.
Iranian women’s social rights are violated under a regime that does not recognize their freedom to participate in social activities such as sports taking place in stadiums. The practice of barring women from entering the stadium traces back to the 1979 Islamic revolution. While women have been allowed to attend several sporting events, their participation is low. Discrimination in women’s participation in large sports events in stadiums is limited because they are often denied entry into these facilities. The practice of denying entry of women into these stadiums is gender-biased due to the bad attitudes Iranian authorities have towards women gender.
Women’s discrimination has not spared Iranian women in the job market. Women pursuing professional careers in Iran confront social and legal barriers. The salient support for women’s discrimination by Iranian authorities contributes to inequality in the representation of women in the marketplace. It is unfortunate to learn that although women make up over 50% of university graduates, their participation in the job market is 17%. This practice is responsible for making Iran among the last five countries in gender equality accord the recent Global Gender Gap report. The political ideology in the country is that women need to embrace the “ideal roles” as mothers instead of seeking job opportunities. This discrimination also involves women being denied an opportunity to choose a profession based on their husband’s choice. Article 1117 of the civil code empowers husbands to decline a wife taking a job believed to contravene family values.
Women’s rights regarding freedom of movement are also at stake in Iran. Iranian authorities have continued to enforce Article 18 of the passport law that warrants women to have a passport with their husbands’ permission. In making a passport application, a husband’s written consent must be filled for the application to be complete. Through this rule, the Iranian regime has ensured that the freedom of women to travel is constrained. Women who cannot get the consent of their husbands would not find a passport and cannot exercise their right to freedom of movement. Unmarried women also face social and cultural restrictions when traveling abroad.
Moreover, the Iranian regime continues to discriminate against women by violating their right to equal pay for equal work. One of the tenets of the Iranian labor law is that workers have a right to equal pay for equal. However, several reports show that women are paid less compared to men doing the same job in the same job market. For instance, a recent Global Gender Gap report estimated that women earn 41% less than men when performing equal work. The same report showed that Iranian men earn 5.79 times more than women.
This finding reveals how Iranian employers have continued to discriminate against women in the labor force.
In late 2021, reports emerged of a mass poisoning incident affecting over 2,000 schoolgirls in Iran’s southern city of Iranshahr. The cause of the poisoning was initially unclear, but authorities later attributed it to contaminated drinking water. This incident sparked widespread outrage and protests in Iran, particularly among the country’s youth. Many Iranians saw it as yet another example of government neglect and mismanagement, and the incident fueled pre-existing grievances over a range of issues, including economic hardship, political repression, and widespread corruption. As a result, the mass poisoning incident has been cited as one of the factors contributing to the recent uprising in Iran, which began in late 2021 and has continued into now.
In closing, women’s discrimination in Iran is rampant. The country’s regime has continued to enforce punitive and discriminative laws against women. Recent protests in the country against the dictatorial regime are filled with protesters with unique stories of their experience with the Iranian regime. In enforcing discriminative laws, the regime has continued to violate women’s rights under the pretext of enforcing Sharialaws.