PARIS – Women in Iran have faced significant economic and legal setbacks in recent years, said the National Council of Resistance in Iran, an opposition group that keeps track of state violence and political repression within Iran.
They note an increase in the number of politically-motivated arrests and detentions of women since 2012, as well as high numbers of executions of women, including one high-profile 2014 case in which a woman was executed after resisting rape by a government official.
The forced veiling of women has also continued unabated. The issue of the legal enforcement of veiling a woman’s face and body is controversial in the international community, as well as within Iran. Mandatory veiling began during the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Veiling has been further enforced by an increased number of “morality police”, plainclothes officers who enforce state-derived cultural norms.
Women are also often victims of corporal punishment. Flogging and other forms of physical punishment are still practiced in the Iranian justice system.
Education has been, somewhat paradoxically, an area where women in Iran have made great strides. In 2006, more than 50% of college students and 70% of science and engineering students were women.
High rates of education have not translated into economic success, however. Women still face restrictive work laws, including mandatorily segregated workplaces and new pieces of legislation which reduce women’s legal ability to work.
The state of women’s rights has been a key source of conflict between progressives and conservatives in post-1979 Iran. Women in that country have long been a symbolically important group representing either dangerous immorality or the progress of human rights, and international women’s groups keep a close watch on developments within Iran.
For a detailed history of women’s rights and other issues in Iran, see “Veiling, Unveiling, and Revealing” (2007) (link here)