Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences
E/CN.4/2006/61/Add.3 para 73 (c)
Full recommendation:
In order to enhance women’s access to justice through a transparent legal and judiciary reform
it is recommended that the Government: (c) Raise the age of majority for girls and boys to 18 in
conformity with the Convention on the Rights of the Child;
Assessment using Impact Iran human rights indicators1
The Convention on the Rights of the Child understands the age of majority to be 18.
Article 20 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran guarantees that all citizens of Iran,
men and women, enjoy the equal protection of the law and of rights, “in conformity with the
Islamic criteria.” Article 21 emphasises that “the government must ensure the rights of women in
all respects, in conformity with Islamic criteria”.2 While these provisions supposedly safeguard
the human rights of women and protect them from discrimination, such legal guarantees exist
only as long as they are in conformity with the “Islamic criteria.” The room for interpretation
permitted to understand what is considered to be “in conformity with Islamic criteria” has often
resulted in provisions that discriminate or have a discriminatory impact on various grounds,
including gender.
The Iranian Islamic Penal Code (2013) is largely based on the Government’s interpretation of
Islamic Sharia precepts and contains provisions which directly discriminate between girls and
boys. One of the most telling examples is the age of criminal responsibility, which is set at nine
lunar years for girls (the Gregorian equivalent of eight years, nine months) and fifteen lunar
years for boys (the Gregorian equivalent of fourteen years, seven months).3 The Islamic Republic
of Iran has not increased the age of criminal responsibility for girls, nor does it appear that such
changes have been considered by the Government.
Other provisions under the Iranian criminal justice system discriminate between girls and boys.
To name a few, a girl over the age of nine or a woman’s testimony is valued at half that of a
man’s4, or in some proceedings it is not even considered. 5 Another instance is that the Islamic

1

CCPR.2.1.S.1; CCPR.2.1.P.1; CCPR.2.1.P.2
Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, English translation, https://irandataportal.syr.edu/wp-content/uploads/constitutionenglish-1368.pdf
3
Criminal responsibility, Articles 140, 146 and 147 of the Islamic Penal Code, 2013 https://iranhrdc.org/english-translation-ofbooks-i-ii-of-the-new-islamic-penal-code/
4
Islamic Penal Code, 2013, Articles 74, 75 199, English Translation, Iran Human Rights Documentation Center,
https://iranhrdc.org/islamic-penal-code-of-the-islamic-republic-of-iran-book-one-book-two/
5
Islamic Penal Code, 2013, Article 119, English translation, Iran Human Rights Documentation Center,
https://iranhrdc.org/islamic-penal-code-of-the-islamic-republic-of-iran-book-one-book-two/
2

1

Select target paragraph3