Maryam Rajavi – on women’s rights in tomorrow’s Iran

1. Fundamental freedoms and rights

  • Women shall have the equal right to enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms;
  • Irrespective of their ethnicity, religion, social class or demographics, women everywhere, in whatever village or city, must have the same rights as men in all economic, social and political spheres. Discrimination against women must be abolished in all its forms.
  • Women are free to choose their place of residence, occupation, and education. They must have the opportunity to travel freely, have the right to freely choose their clothing and spouse, and have the right to leave the country, to obtain foreign citizenship, to devolve citizenship to their children, to divorce, and to obtain custody and guardianship over children.
  • Belief in a specific faith or religion or lack of it, must not count as a factor to degrade any women or to prevent them from access to employment opportunities or educational and judicial resources.

2. Equality before the law

  • Women must enjoy protection of the law equal to men.
  • Women must enjoy access to guaranteed judicial recourse in the face of violence, rape, discrimination and deprivation of liberty.
  • Women must have equal rights as men before the courts.
  • Courts must view testimonies and affidavits submitted by women as equal in weight to those submitted by men.
  • The legal age for girls shall be 18. Prior to this age, girls shall not be subject to criminal punishment;

3. Freedom of choosing one’s own clothing

  • Women are free to choose their own clothing. Government interference in this regard is prohibited.
  • The law of forced veiling shall be repealed.
  • Laws that prescribe administrative punishment for lack of veiling of female workers or employees shall be repealed.
  • Written or unwritten laws on controlling the clothing or behaviour of women under the rubric of “mal-veiling,” which have violated Iranian women’s right to freedom and security, shall have no place in tomorrow’s Iran.

4. Equal participation in political leadership

  • Women shall enjoy the right to participate “in the formulation of government policy and the implementation thereof and to hold public office and perform all public functions at all levels of government.”
  • Women must specifically enjoy the right to equal participation in the country’s political leadership.
  • In order to dispense with any inequality, the government must appoint women for at least half of its posts, and political parties are obliged to choose at least half their candidates from among women for parliamentary elections.
  • Any laws that cause prohibitions or limitations on women occupying government posts or senior judicial and legal positions must be repealed.

5. Equality in the economic sphere

  • Women shall enjoy equal rights as men in terms of inheritance, entering contracts and management of property.
  • Women shall have equal opportunities as men in the labour market.
  • Women must receive equal pay for equal work as men, in addition to having job security and complete benefits.
  • In accessing housing, appropriate nutrition, medical services, and employment, as well as athletic and artistic endeavours, women shall enjoy equal opportunities as men.

6. Equality in the family

  • Women must have free and equal right to choose, marry or divorce a spouse.
  • Polygamy is prohibited.
  • Marriage before reaching legal age is prohibited. In family life, any coercion or compulsion of women is prohibited.
  • Familial responsibilities such as housekeeping, raising children, employment, and educating children are the obligation of both men and women
  • Women shall have the rights to obtain custody over their children.
  • Employment of young girls below the legal age shall be prohibited. They will enjoy special privileges in field of education.
  • Government inquisition and meddling in women private lives is prohibited.

7. Prohibition of violence

  • The death penalty has no place in the future of Iran and as such, the death penalty against women shall be annulled. Torture, offensive and degrading treatment of women shall be prohibited.
  • Rape shall be considered a crime wherever it occurs.
  • Various forms of violence against women, acts of intimidation or forcible deprivation of their freedoms shall be considered crimes.

8. Prohibition of sexual exploitation

  • Sex trade is prohibited.
  • Trafficking of women and forcing them into prostitution is a crime and those responsible shall be criminally prosecuted.
  • Anyone committing sexual crimes against children shall be prosecuted.
  • Any form of sexual exploitation of women under any pretext shall be prohibited and all customs, laws and regulations which allow the parents, guardian or a third party related to a girl or woman to give away the latter to another party for sexual pleasure or exploitation under the pretext of marriage or anything else shall be annulled.

9. Repealing Mullahs’ Sharia laws

  • The mullahs’ Sharia laws shall not have a place in the laws of the future Iran.
  • Emphasis shall be “to repeal all national penal provisions which constitute discrimination against women.”
  • Appalling and brutal laws such as stoning shall be repealed.
  • All laws authorizing crimes against women under familial pretexts shall be repealed.

10. Social benefits

  • Women must have access to social benefits, especially as it relates to retirement, unemployment, old age and other forms of disability, in addition to the right to maternity leave during pregnancy and after delivery, and the right to sufficient nutrition and free services during this period.
  • The government is obligated to plan to provide for the nursery and day care requirements of working women.
  • All employed women must have access to nursery and day care centers for raising their children.
  • Women belonging to minorities, female refugees or immigrants, women living in villages or remote areas, underprivileged women, female prisoners, young girls, and disabled or weak or old women, shall enjoy special financial, educational and medical support from the government.
  • Depriving women employed under temporary contracts of social benefits shall be prohibited.
  • Dismissing women from work or reducing their wages due to pregnancy or delivery, or obligating them to perform harmful jobs during this period shall be prohibited.
  • The government shall assume responsibility for supporting single women who provide for their families.



[1]   “The term “discrimination against women” shall mean any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field” (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Part I, Article 1).
[2]   The constitution of the clerical regime has made gender equality contingent upon the criterion of “conformity with Islamic criteria.” According to Article 20 of that constitution, “All citizens of the country, both men and women, equally enjoy the protection of the law and enjoy all human, political, economic, social, and cultural rights, in conformity with Islamic criteria.” And Article 21 states, “The government must ensure the rights of women in all respects, in conformity with Islamic criteria.” Since the ruling mullahs have a reactionary interpretation of Islam rendering it in effect a misogynistic religion, their views and laws are based on discrimination and suppression against women.
[3]   The clerical regime’s Civil Law has explicitly rejected the rights of women in these respects, stating among other things:
“The husband has the right to prevent his wife from engaging in a profession which goes against the interest of the family or the honor of the husband or the wife” (Article 1117).
“A man can divorce his wife any time he so chooses” (Article 1133).
“A wife must live in the home her husband chooses, unless she is given the right to choose the location of her residence” (Article 1114).
[4]   In accordance with the Iranian regime’s laws, a woman’s testimony in court has half the weight a man’s testimony has.
[5]   Article 638 of the Islamic Punishment Act (ratified in 1996) states: “Anyone who openly engages in a forbidden act in public or in public places will receive punishment proportional to the act in addition to imprisonment ranging from 10 days to two months or up to 74 lashes. In the event that they commit an act which essentially has no attributed punishment but nonetheless tarnishes public morals, the punishment shall only be imprisonment ranging from 10 days to two months or up to 74 lashes.” Amendment: “Women who appear without Sharia veiling in public and public places will be sentenced to imprisonment ranging from 10 days to two months or monetary penalties ranging from 50,000 to 500,000 rials.”
[6]   Paragraph 20 of Article 8 of the laws on “Examination of Administrative Offenses” (ratified in 1993) deems lack of compliance with forcible veiling on the part of women as an “offense in places of work,” which carries punishments such as written warnings or in some cases even dismissal from work.
[7]   Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
[8]   According to the clerical regime’s laws, women cannot be president or judges:
Article 115 of the Iranian regime’s constitution views the right to hold the office of presidency as limited to only “religious and political statesmen.”
Article 163 of that constitution has made qualifications for a judge contingent upon the “principles of religious jurisprudence,” stating: “The conditions and qualifications to be fulfilled by a judge will be determined by law, in accordance with principles of religious jurisprudence.”
The “Law on Conditions for Appointing Judiciary Judges” (ratified in April 1982), states, “Judges will be appointed from among men with the following qualifications: 1. Practical faith, justice, and commitment to Islamic principles and loyalty to the system of Islamic Republic of Iran…”
In 1985, amendments were made to the above law allowing women to hold advisory positions or become investigative magistrates in judicial bodies. But, they still cannot draft judgments.
[9]   Inheritance under the regime’s laws is based on the notion that the share belonging to a woman is half of what belongs to a man. This ratio appears in all of the mullahs’ civil laws regarding inheritance rights.
[10]   Women only account for 12 percent of the active labor force in Iran.
[11]   Amendment 1 of Article 120 of the regime’s Civil Law states, “The legal age for boys is 15 and for girls is 9 lunar years (8 years and 9 months).” Despite Article 1041 of the Civil Law, which has prohibited “marriage before puberty,” this amendment legalizes forcible marriage of girls younger than 9 years old.
[12]   In accordance with Article 1169 of the Civil Law, when a husband and wife are divorced, “The mother will have priority for raising the child up to two years after birth. After this period, the father will have custody, except in case of young girls over whom the mother will have custody until the seventh year.”
[13]   The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (Article 2) states, “Violence against women shall be understood to encompass, but not be limited to, the following:
    (a) Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related to exploitation;
    (b) Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women and forced prostitution;
    (c) Physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs.”
[14]   Experts from the US State Department’s 2009 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP): “Iran is a source, transit, and destination for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and involuntary servitude. Iranian women are trafficked internally for the purpose of forced prostitution and forced marriage. Iranian and Afghan children living in Iran are trafficked internally for the purpose of forced marriage, commercial sexual exploitation, and involuntary servitude as beggars or laborers to pay debts, provide income, or support drug addiction of their families. Iranian women and girls are also trafficked to Pakistan, Turkey, Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom for commercial sexual exploitation. … The law permits temporary marriage for a fixed term (“sigheh”), after which the marriage is terminated. Some persons abuse this institution in order to coerce women into sexual exploitation; there are reports of Iranian women sold into fixed term marriages to men from Pakistan and Gulf states or into forced prostitution. It was extremely difficult for women forced into sexual exploitation to obtain justice: first, because the testimony of two women is equal to that of one man, and second, because women who are victims of sexual abuse are vulnerable to being executed for adultery, defined as sexual relations outside of marriage. … The government reportedly punishes victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked, for example, adultery and prostitution. There were reports that the government arrested, prosecuted, and punished several trafficking victims on charges of prostitution or adultery” (pp. 161-162).
[15]   The National Council of Resistance of Iran’s Plan for Women’s Freedoms and Rights, ratified on April 17, 1987.
[16]   Articles 102 to 105 of the mullahs’ current penal code (Islamic Punishment Act) states the following about stoning:
[17]   “For the purposes of stoning, a man shall be buried until the waist and a woman shall be buried until the chest, after which the stoning shall be carried out” (Article 102).

“Whenever a person manages to flee from the hole in the ground they were placed in, if their adultery has been proven with the power of a testimony, then they shall be returned for the continuation of the sentence. But, if the adultery has only been proven by their own admission, then they shall not be returned” (Article 103).

“The size of the stone for stoning must not so big as to kill the person with one or two hits. It must also not be too small so that it cannot be called a stone” (Article 104).

[18]   Some articles in the mullahs’ current penal code (Islamic Punishment Act) state:

“If a father or grandfather murders their own child, he will not be punished in kind [death penalty] and will be sentenced to provide financial compensation to heirs of the slain and maximum or minimum punishment allowed by law” (Article 220).

“Manslaughter shall only be subject to a retaliatory punishment if the slain did not deserve to die in accordance with Sharia. If the slain deserved death, the murderer must demonstrate this in court in accordance with the principles” (Article 226).

[19]   This expression is used for women who are the sole breadwinner for families that in some instances are comprised of older parents or several children. These women have either lost their husbands or have divorced, or are married but their husbands are on the run, addicted to drugs, in prison, unemployed, an immigrant or disabled. They usually earn a living from seasonal or low-paying jobs. Such families are among the poorest sectors of society in Iran. According to a 2006 census in Iran, the number of such households was 1,641,000 at the time. But, on December 22, 2009, a government official told the media that that number has now peaked at two million.