Justice for Iran (JFI), 5 February 2016: The UN has criticised Iran for forcing girls to wear hijab (Islamic veil) at the very young age of seven, irrespective of their religious affiliations. Following a review of the situation in Iran, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) urged the country to “review its hijab laws and regulations and ensure that the right of girls to wear or not to wear hijab is fully respected.”
The UN watchdog for children’s rights condemned Iran, for the pre-defined ages of puberty for girls at nine and for boys at 15 years, and asked the State to increase the minimum age of marriage for both girls and boys to 18 years. The CRC also stated that an increasing number of “girls at the age of ten years or younger” are “subjected to child and forced marriages to much older men.” The CRC urged the Iranian government to “to increase the legal age of marriage to 18 years and criminalize marital rape.”
Shadi Sadr, the executive director of the JFI concurred: “Although the Iranian State officials claimed that these marriages occur due to cultural factors; CRC has rightfully urged the State to appropriately address the plight of girls in Iran.”
The committee, which is made up of 18 independent experts, also expressed concerns about the flogging and death penalty for LGBTI children as a result of their sexuality or even perceived gender expression, asking Iran to decriminalize same-sex relations and end the harassment and bullying of LGBTI children.
Shadi Sadr, the executive director of the JFI concurred: “although the Iranian State officials claimed that these marriages occur due to cultural factors; CRC has rightfully urged the State to appropriately address the plight of girls in Iran.”
The CRC particularly criticised Iran for “cruel and degrading treatment” of LGBTI persons with electroshocks, hormones, strong psychoactive medications, and forcible surgical treatment, urging that “those responsible for these acts be held accountable”.
The UN body said it was concerned about child sexual exploitation and abuse committed under Iranian law, which allows for a marriage between the “father and adopted child, paving a path for sexual abuse of children.” In its recommendations, the committee urged to ensure that those responsible for the approval of forced and child marriage, including judges, parents, guardians, and religious or traditional leaders are held accountable.
It also called for increasing the age of criminal responsibility, especially for girls, set at 9 years for certain crimes, and said this age is “extremely low.”
The Committee also stated serious concerns about the discriminatory treatment of men and women, with respects to the auspices of Iranian law maintaining that husbands are the exclusive heads of households.
In a submission to the CRC, JFI had urged the Committee to take appropriate measures against the discriminatory laws and practices of child marriage and compulsory veiling of children in Iran. Many JFI recommendations were adopted by the UN Committee of the Rights of the Child.
For further information:
Veiled and Wed: Enforced Hijab Laws, Early Marriages, and Girl Children in the Islamic Republic of Iran
Concluding observations on the combined third and fourth periodic reports of the Islamic Republic of Iran