Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences
E/CN.4/2006/61/Add.3 para 72 (c)
Full recommendation:
With a view to the adoption and observation of international human rights standards the Special
Rapporteur recommends that the Government: Ensure full respect for all human rights, as
guaranteed in international human rights treaties ratified by Iran, including the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights, which, inter alia, guarantee the right to non-discrimination based on sex.
Assessment using Impact Iran human rights indicators1
Article 3 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic 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
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 emphasizes 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 the Islamic Republic of Iran is entrusted
with defining and determining 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 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 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
responsibility, which is set at nine lunar years for girls (equivalent to eight years, nine months)
and fifteen lunar years for boys (equivalent of fourteen years, seven months).3

1
CCPR.2.3.S.1; CCPR.3.1.S.1; CCPR.3.1.S.4; CCPR.16.1.S.1; CCPR.23.2.S.1; CCPR.23.4.S.1; CCPR.23.3.S.1; CRC.8.1.S.1;
ESCR.2.2.S.1; ESCR.6.1.S.1; ESCR.6.1.S.3; CCPR.3.1.P.3; CCPR.16.1.P.1; CCPR.23.2.P.1; CCPR.2.3.P.1; CCPR.23.3.P.1;
ESCR.2.2.P.3; ESCR.6.1.P.1; CCPR.2.3.O.4; CCPR.3.1.O.4; CCPR.23.3.O.1; CRC.8.1.O.2; CCPR.2.1.O.1; ESCR.6.1.O.2
2
Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, https://irandataportal.syr.edu/wp-content/uploads/constitution-english-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/

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