JFI brief and recommendations on right to bodily cover

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During the first cycle of UPR on Iran, the Islamic Republic accepted at least ten recommendations that directly address the State’s duty to guarantee the equal treatment of women and girls in law.[1] Despite its response, the Islamic Republic has failed in its commitment to implement the relevant recommendations.

 

FACTS

 Disciplining Bodies, Diagnosing Identities, Mandatory Veiling, Mandatory Sterilization, Sexual Torture and the Right to Bodily Integrity in the Islamic Republic of Iran[2], a UPR submission by JFI highlights a range of distinct but interrelated criminal laws and other legal restrictions and practices. Among them are gender-based policies that endorse infringements on dignity and autonomy of women and girls, including the right to bodily cover and choice of clothing:

 

  • The Islamic Republic is the first country to demand hijab by law starting at 7 years of age for all school girls and women regardless of background and age. Sharia laws apply hijab to those between 9 and 70 years of age starting in March 1979 despite great opposition by women and girls in Iran.
  • Guidance Patrols enforce hijab rules and regulations in all public spaces through physical and psychological harassment, torture and violence, on all women includinggirls and even pregnant women, for ‘improper’ hijab often defined randomly in accordance with judgement of disciplinary forces personnel.
  • In Iran, all rights to access public spaces, employment, education, travel, recreation or cultural activities and medical care are subject to hijab.
  • State officials can and have refused women the right to enter airports or drive their own cars due to perceived ‘improper’ hijab.
  • Between 2003 and 2013 alone, official statistics show state authorities subjected at least 30,000 women to arrest and 460,000 to verbal warning

RECOMMENDATIONS

In light of its legal commitment to the principle of anti-discrimination, and the right to freedom of expression and belief, the Islamic Republic must:

  • Lift the mandatory hijab laws, end mandate of enforcement guidance patrols, and identify and prosecute governmental or quasi-governmental officials and organs responsible for harassment of women for improper hijab and provide reparation and compensation to victims.
  • Bring its national legislation into conformity with international obligations on women’s rights, including the right to education, work, participation in cultural life, access to public services, freedom of movement and right to psychological security regardless of the imposed hijab laws.
  • Ratify CEDAW and recognize the rights of women and girls, in particular those who belong to ethnic and religious minorities who still face multiple forms of discrimination with respect to education, health, employment and social and political participation based on enforced hijab laws.

 

[1]Recommendations by Chile, Estonia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Viet Nam, Austria, Bangladesh and Ireland

[2] http://justice4iran.org/english/j4iran-activities/disciplining-bodies-diagnosing-identities-mandatory-veiling-mandatory-sterilization-sexual-torture-and-the-right-to-bodily-integrity-in-the-islamic-republic-of-iran/