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”. 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 of what is deemed to be “in conformity with Islamic criteria” has often resulted with 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 of eight years, nine months of the Gregorian calendar) and fifteen lunar years for boys (equivalent of fourteen years, seven months of the Gregorian calendar).4 The Islamic Penal Code (2013) penalises women and girls over the age of nine who do not comply with the Islamic dress code in public, notably with the rule of wearing the compulsory hijab.5 6 Additionally, a large number of provisions under the Iranian Civil Code are discriminatory towards women. These provisions notably include the legal age of marriage,7 the share of inheritance,8 and the right to divorce.9 In marriage, the Civil Code provides rights to the husband over those of the wife,10 notably by establishing that the position of the ‘head of the family’ is the exclusive prerogative of the husband. Under Iranian law, the husband is entitled to control aspects of his wife’s life11 and can demand that she perform her ‘duties’.12 The legal minimum 4 Criminal responsibility, Articles 140, 146 and 147 of the Islamic Penal Code, 2013 5 Islamic Penal Code, 2013, Article 638, Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, 6 See more: Minority Rights, Beyond the Veil: Discrimination against women in Iran, 2019, 7 Article 1041, Civil Code of the Islamic Republic of Iran. 8 Articles 861 to 948, Civil Code of the Islamic Republic of Iran. 9 Article 1133, Civil Code of the Islamic Republic of Iran. 10 Articles 1102 to 1119, 1133 to 1142, Civil Code of the Islamic Republic of Iran. 11 For instance, under Article 1117 of the Civil Code of the Islamic Republic of Iran “The husband can prevent his wife from occupations or technical work which is incompatible with the family interests or the dignity of himself or his wife.” 12 Article 1108, Civil Code of the Islamic Republic of Iran. 2

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