Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences
E/CN.4/2006/61/Add.3 para 75 (g)
Full recommendation:
In order to promote and support the empowerment of women in all spheres of life, it is
recommended that the Government: Listen to the voice of women.
Assessment using Impact Iran human rights indicators1
The legal framework of the Islamic Republic of Iran (“Iran”) does not protect the rights of
women in all spheres of life. Article 3 of the Constitution of Iran stipulates that the State has a
duty to work towards “the abolition of all forms of undesirable discrimination and the provision
of equitable opportunities for all, in both the material and the intellectual spheres.”2 Article 20 of
the Constitution 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 of the Constitution
emphasises that “the government must ensure the rights of women in all respects, in conformity
with Islamic criteria”.
According to Article 4 of the Constitution, the Guardian Council of Iran is entrusted with
defining and determining the framework for what constitutes these so-called “Islamic criteria” or
standards. Among the 12 non-elected members of the Guardian Council, only the six male clerics
directly appointed by the Supreme Leader are responsible for such task. While the
aforementioned constitutional provisions supposedly safeguard the rights of women and protect
them from gender-based discrimination, such legal guarantees only exist as long as they are in
conformity with “Islamic criteria.” The opportunity for interpretation allowed under the
qualifications such as “in conformity with Islamic criteria” has often resulted in provisions that
discriminate 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 that discriminatorily differentiate between girls
and boys under the criminal justice system. 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

1
ESCR.2.2.S.1; ESCR.3.2.S.1; CCPR.2.1.S.1; CCPR.2.2.S.1; CCPR.3.1.S.1
ESCR.2.2.P.1; ESCR.2.2.P.2; CCPR.2.1.P.1; CCPR.2.1.P.2; CCPR.3.1.P.1
ESCR.2.2.O.2; CCPR.2.1.O.3
2
Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, https://irandataportal.syr.edu/wp-content/uploads/constitution-english-1368.pdf
3
Articles 140, 146 and 147, Islamic Penal Code, https://iranhrdc.org/english-translation-of-books-i-ii-of-the-new-islamic-penalcode/

1

Select target paragraph3