therefore explicitly excludes marital rape.10 Beyond rape, no other form of sexual assault is specifically criminalized under the Islamic Penal Code.11 As a result, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s legislative framework is insufficient to combat domestic violence and marital rape.12 In 2017, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran found that Article 1108 of the Iranian Civil Code, which obliges wives to fulfill the sexual needs of their husbands at all times, “might even condone sexual abuse”.13 Reports of cases of violence against women have shown that there is a general lack of accountability for perpetrators. 14 15 16 According to criminal law in Iran, a crime can be proven on the basis of three things: the confession of the accused, 17 the testimony of witnesses, 18 and the knowledge of the judge.19 Victims wishing to file a complaint for rape must present four adult male witnesses to the assault, or two men and four women witnesses, an evidentiary burden difficult to meet -if not impossible. In cases where the alleged offender doesn’t confess and the victim cannot gather the required witnesses’ testimonies, the judge is granted full discretion to reach a verdict, in theory based on statements from the accused and the victim, police and forensic reports, etc. If the judge decides that there hasn’t been rape but a sexual relationship occurred between the victim and the offender, then the victim may be prosecuted for adultery. Indeed, Iranian law criminalises sexual relationships outside of marriage or zina. As the legal proceedings rely extensively on the judge’s knowledge and considering the negative social stigma surrounding women’s sexuality added to gender discriminations under Shari’a law, women victims of rape seeking justice risk to be found guilty of zina. During its last Universal Periodic Review (November 2019) the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran stated that the Act on Protection, Dignity and Security of Women against Violence, will be “aimed at criminalizing new forms of assault, harassment and violations of the rights of women and adopting preventive and support measures to stop violence against women.”20 In January 2020, the U.N. Secretary General expressed concerns about the slow 10 Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, 2020, Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, 2020, 12 See more: Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, 2020, 13 Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, 2017, 14 Center for Human Rights in Iran, 2019, 15 Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, 2020, 16 Human Rights Activists News Agency, 17 According to Article 172 of the Islamic Penal Code, 2013, the accused should confess 4 times in the presence of a judge. 18 “The standard [of proof] for testimony in all offences shall be two male witnesses; unless in zina, livat, tafkhiz, and mosaheqeh which shall be proved by four male witnesses” Article 199 of the Islamic Penal Code (2013), Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, 2020, 19 Article 160 of the IPC. 20 Universal Periodic Review, Iran, 2019, 11 2

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