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Silencing the Women's Rights Movement in Iran

that provided classes in literacy, vocational training, healthcare (including family planning information), and legal assistance on marriage, divorce and inheritance rights.20 Many centers also provided day-care facilities for working women. By 1975, there were 349 branches and 120 centers throughout the country. The WOI also sponsored research on the problems of women from many socio-economic and geographic sectors, and proposed legal and societal reforms.21

Parliament passed the Family Protection Law (FPL) in 1967. Endorsed by Ayatollah Hakim, the most eminent Shia cleric at the time, the FPL gave women expanded rights in marriage, divorce and child-custody. It raised the marriage age from thirteen to fifteen for girls, and established special Family Protection Courts to handle marriage, divorce, and child custody disputes according to the Civil Code. Under the prior law, these issues were settled in the husband's favor-men were allowed to unilaterally divorce their wives and demand custody of the children." 22 They were also permitted to marry additional wives without the others' permission, and enter into temporary marriages without informing their wives. Upon the death of the husband, the male members of his family had custody rights over the couple's children that were superior to those of the widow.23

The FPL provided several grounds supporting a woman's petition for divorce-including her husband's marriage to a second wife without her consent. It also made unilateral divorce impossible by requiring husbands (as well as wives) to seek a permit from a Family Protection Court for the registration of divorce-known as certificates of the impossibility of reconciliation. The Courts decided child custody matters. Husbands also had to seek consent from a court before marrying an additional wife.24

The 1975 amendments to the FPL increased the minimum age of marriage for women to eighteen and men to twenty, and assigned custody of children to the mother upon the death of the children's father. The amended FPL also gave the wife the right (already enjoyed by her husband) to prevent her husband from accepting work that would dishonor the family. The amendments allowed women to be judges and women lawyers to represent clients in court.25

1.2 The Islamic Republic

By 1978, Iranian women were working as judges, diplomats, cabinet officers, mayors, and governors and twenty-two women sat in Parliament. Encouraged to assert themselves by the WOI and other organizations,26 women enthusiastically joined the movements against the monarchy at the end of the 1970s. In 1978,

[20] Afary, supra note 3, at 211; Afkhami, supra note 16, at 117.
[21] Afkhami, supra note 16, at 117-121.
[22] Esfandiari, supra note 18, at 30.
[23] Afkhami, supra note 16, at 132. Esfandiari, supra note 18, at 31.
[24] Id. at 30.
[25] Id at 30-31.
[26] Id. at 34; Afkhami, supra note 16, at 130-31.

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Tagged as:

Sexual Violence, Gender Rights, Death Penalty, Political Killings, Executions, Torture, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, Punishment, Personal Liberty, Arbitrary Detention, Travel Restrictions, Due Process, Right to an Attorney, Illegal Search and Seizure, Free Speech, Right to Protest, Protests, Free Association, Child Rights, Political Freedom, Equality Before the Law, Discrimination