‘Protecting dignity’: Iran’s push to combat violence in opposition to girls

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Tehran, Iran – After almost a decade within the making, Iran could lastly be on observe to cross laws that, whereas removed from good, would sign progress in addressing a variety of points referring to violence in opposition to girls.

A draft invoice known as Protection, Dignity, and Security of Women Against Violence, which has been within the works for the reason that administration of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was permitted by the federal government in early January.

While the administration of President Hassan Rouhani hopes to show the invoice into legislation earlier than he finishes his second tenure in June, the invoice should first clear the parliament and the constitutional vetting physique known as the Guardian Council, which consists of jurists and spiritual specialists.

Parliament, which has been at odds with the federal government over Iran’s nuclear take care of world powers and the annual finances invoice amongst different issues, has but to start work on the laws.

The invoice finalised by the federal government is the results of years of labor by completely different factions of the administration along with dozens of authorized specialists, judges and executives on the judiciary.

The judiciary, underneath the brand new management of former presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi since early 2019, completed its prolonged evaluation in September 2019.

The most senior girl in Rouhani’s outgoing authorities advised Al Jazeera that the invoice’s background makes it important.

“In addition to being strong legally, this bill has a rare strength and formidability because it has been devised, reviewed and pursued through the indirect participation of the two reigning political thoughts of reformism and principlism [conservatism] across three governments,” stated Masoumeh Ebtekar, Vice President for Women and Family Affairs.

“Not only did the judiciary not oppose its principles, but had an effective cooperation with the government in expert review and follow-up sessions.”

However, the invoice could face opposition on the conservative parliament, and the highly effective Guardian Council, which about twenty years in the past rejected a invoice to hitch the United Nations Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

That invoice has been in a legislative impasse ever since as Iran stays one among solely 4 international locations on the earth to not have ratified the conference.

“Before waiting for and expecting the bill to be passed during the tenure of the current government, the issue of whether it will be passed by the parliament and approved by the Guardian Council is considered a major concern,” Ebtekar stated in reference to the ladies’s invoice she spearheaded.

“The parliament can make changes in the bill as per the law. But there’s hope that considering the amount of expert reviews conducted by both the executive and judicial branches, because the bill was originally devised by a principalist government, and because of demands in the society, changes in the bill would either not take place or be kept at a minimum.”

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What’s within the invoice?

The invoice’s dozens of articles and provisions supply up a brand new definition for violence in opposition to girls, arrange new duties for varied state-run businesses, and envision new assist methods.

The laws defines violence as “any behaviour inflicted on women due to sexuality, vulnerable position or type of relationship, and inflicts harm to their body, psyche, personality and dignity, or restricts or deprives them of legal rights and freedoms”.

It envisages the formation of a fund by the judiciary to assist victims of violence, present teachings on “life and job skills” to imprisoned girls, and contribute to paying blood cash to households of ladies murdered by males.

The draft legislation says the judiciary can challenge a safety order in case of a severe risk of hurt to a survivor of violence or her youngsters, which may embody a restraining order, obliging the husband to attend remedy, or switch the sufferer and her youngsters to a protected home.

It additionally comprises provisions geared toward boosting job creation for susceptible girls, and lowering or managing working hours for employed girls who must spend extra household time. It additional advocates extra complete insurance coverage protection for housewives.

The invoice dedicates a good portion of its provisions to training and increasing data and know-how on girls’s points.

For occasion, along with obligating the judiciary to create places of work tasked with offering assist to victims of violence, it requires organising academic programs for judges and different judiciary employees.

If handed into legislation, it is going to obligate the state broadcaster to provide extra programmes that promote the assist of ladies and the prevention of violence in opposition to them as household values.

It sees a job for the ministry of training in holding programs for college students, lecturers and fogeys, and in higher figuring out susceptible college students.

The laws additionally contains the ministry of well being, legislation enforcement and jail organisations amongst others as a part of its imaginative and prescient.

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What’s lacking?

In a radical evaluation of the invoice in December, Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated the laws has a a number of sturdy factors together with coordination of efforts inside and out of doors the federal government.

However, the New York-based organisation stated “the bill falls short of international standards,” together with these stipulated within the United Nations Women’s Handbook for Legislation on Violence Against Women.

For one, the HRW stated, the invoice doesn’t particularly outline home violence although it contains measures that might assist higher shield girls subjected to it.

Moreover, whereas the laws criminalises varied types of violence in opposition to girls together with compelled marriage, sexual harassment in public and bodily and psychological abuse, it doesn’t criminalise marital rape and virginity testing, or abolish youngster marriage.

The necessary punishment for rape stays the demise penalty, which is among the elements that might deter survivors from reporting rape.

The most up-to-date reflection of this dilemma got here in September 2020 after numerous Iranian girls took to social media to report sexual traumas, launching their very own model of the #MeToo motion.

At least one man was arrested and has since been charged with “corruption on Earth” which carries the demise penalty. Various the accusers elected to not formally sue him as they didn’t want for him to be executed.

The laws says in circumstances of violence the place the daddy or the husband is the accused, authorities ought to refer the case to a medical council for a month in a reconciliation effort, which the HRW stated may scale back accountability for the offender.

Alternative sentences thought-about for the sufferer’s husband, father, or mom is also problematic, the organisation stated.

Most lately, the grotesque beheading of 14-year-old Romina Ashrafi by her father in an “honour” killing in May 2020 directed nationwide consideration in direction of lenient sentences for offenders associated to the victims. The father acquired a sentence of solely 9 years.

The draft legislation additionally doesn’t explicitly exclude prosecution for consensual extramarital affairs which can be criminalised underneath Iran’s present prison code although relationships exterior marriage have seen rising social acceptance in recent times.

It additionally fails to treatment a lot of present discriminatory legal guidelines, together with one which asserts girls should obtain permission from their husband or authorized guardian to depart the nation.

Earlier this month, the ladies’s nationwide alpine snowboarding group left Iran for Italy to participate in worldwide competitions with out its head coach Samira Zargari, as a result of her husband didn’t permit her to depart the nation.

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‘Frameworks of Iranian religion and culture’

When requested concerning the invoice’s shortcomings by way of worldwide requirements, the vice chairman for ladies’s affairs stated social and cultural range in nations implies that legal guidelines that purpose to information folks in direction of optimistic behaviour fluctuate throughout completely different international locations.

But legal guidelines that purpose to discourage people from dangerous behaviour, Ebtekar stated, are typically extra uniform, and are contained within the authorities’s proposed laws.

“The innovations predicted in this bill have created a smooth path to combat violence proportionate to the necessities and needs of Iranian women and within the frameworks of Iranian religion and culture,” she advised Al Jazeera.

“This bill pays attention to three important and vital elements in women’s issues: the dignity and position of women, their rights, and their security at home and in society. Considering how important these three elements are, if the bill is passed, approaches toward the elements will change and will be reformed. This will be the most important thing for women’s issues.”

Ebtekar additionally identified that in his report for UN Women’s upcoming session of the Commission on the Status of Women, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres additionally pointed to Iran’s efforts to assist susceptible girls.

‘More societal sensitivity’

An Iran researcher on the HRW advised Al Jazeera that, like different legislative reforms which have had a optimistic impact on the state of affairs of human rights in Iran, this invoice may additionally assist construct consensus amongst completely different factions of governance.

“I think this bill with all its shortcoming is still an attempt to recognise the importance of providing adequate legal protection for women in society, and creates opportunities to push the authorities to do more awareness raising, and even for lawyers who work on protecting survivors of violence,” Tara Sepehri Far stated.

“I think this law is also going to contribute to empowering women to demand better protections, but it does not go far enough to address all the issues.”

The HRW researcher famous that like different international locations, laws on girls’s rights is well politicised in Iran and has been slow-moving, however a majority of authorities coping with social points recognise the necessity for reform.

“Iranian women and the civil society have been shaping the cultural shift that is probably facilitated by easier access to information through social media,” Sepehri Far stated.

“You can’t deny the fact that there is a lot more societal sensitivity about issues such as femicide and violence against women with media openly discussing them, and this will continue to create pressure on elected officials to take action.”