Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran
A/HRC/22/56 para 78(f)
Full recommendation:
Examine and address those laws that contravene its international obligation to eliminate all
forms of discrimination in law and practice. These include those laws and policies that
undermine gender equality and women’s rights, and that discriminate against religious and
ethnic minorities, and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community in the
country.
Assessment using Impact Iran human rights indicators1
A. Gender equality and women’s rights
Article 3 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran stipulates that it is a duty of the State
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
emphasizes that “the government must ensure the rights of women in all respects, in conformity
with Islamic criteria”. While these provisions supposedly safeguard the human rights of women
and protect them from discrimination, such legal guarantees exist as long as they are in
conformity with “Islamic criteria.” According to Article 4 of the Constitution the Guardian
Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran is entrusted with the definition and determination of the
framework of what constitutes the “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 provisions supposedly safeguard
the human rights of women and protect them from discrimination, such legal guarantees exist as
long as they are in conformity with “Islamic criteria.” The room of interpretation allowed under
the qualifications such as “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 under the criminal justice system. One of the most telling examples is the age of criminal
1

CCPR.2.1.S.1; CCPR.2.2.S.1; CCPR.3.1.S.1; CCPR.3.1.S.4; CCPR.23.4.S.1
CCPR.2.1.P.2; CCPR.2.3.P.1; CCPR.3.1.P.3; CCPR.23.2.P.1
CCPR.2.3.O.4; CCPR.3.1.O.4; CCPR.18.2.S.1; CCPR.18.2.P.1; CCPR.18.2.O.1l; ESCR.2.2.S.1; ESCR.2.2.P.1; ESCR.2.2P.2;
ESCR.2.2.O.2
2
Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, https://irandataportal.syr.edu/wp-content/uploads/constitution-english-1368.pdf

1

Select target paragraph3