The World of Women Under the Iranian Mullahs

For women under the Iranian regime, equal rights stop at the door of their homes. This means that they don’t have the right to their money, to work or to their children. Everything is set up to keep them uneducated and isolated at home.

One key way that the abuse of women in Iran hides in plain sight is through the use of the sigheh, or temporary marriage. There are two types of religiously permissible marriages available in Iran, the permanent and temporary. The sigheh or temporary marriage is a verbal contract that can last as long as desired, be it an hour, a week, a year or more. While it might be sold as a real marriage, the reality is that the man usually gives a woman something, be it money or a place to sleep, in exchange for sex and complete control over her.


The reality for women is that they can often be forced into these marriages and once it is completed, the woman is unlikely to be able to marry permanently. In fact, these kinds of marriages give the men a robust tool to prevent victims from suing for rape. This is because under a temporary marriage, the sex is legal conducted, even if the woman was forced.

A man, therefore, is relieved of any real commitment to the woman, while at the same time, gets to enjoy various women as sex tools. For this, he believes he will be rewarded by God.


Iranian women are being exploited, subjugated and dehumanized by this practice. Judges use it with virgins who are about to be executed, since it is against the law to execute a virgin. Detained girls and women are promised freedom if they will participate in a temporary marriage with an official or a judge.


Iran’s morality police have created a judicial system that limits personal freedom with very painful results. For example, a 14-year-old girl and her teenage friends were beaten by the morality police for wearing ripped jeans in public. After they signed pledges promising not to wear the offensive jeans again, the girls were let go.

“In the 21st century, it is shameful to hear that a government makes decisions on how women should dress. There are many women sharing stories showing that they got lashes just because of attending a mixed party with men or dancing with men at a birthday party,” said one human rights activist.

Women whose hair or body are deemed to be inadequately covered may be publicly admonished, warned, fined or even arrested. Physical punishment can also take place.

Gender segregation is also a part of everyday life in Iran. Women must use separate facilities, including recreation facilities and parks.

Additionally, though women are a part of the workforce, they are a smaller part and often suffer from higher levels of unemployment. While they are able to access education, including degrees in engineering, many struggle to carve out careers for themselves.

According to the Tasnim News Agency, Iran’s minister of culture and guidance announced the elimination of 10 feminist-themed movies from the Fajr film festival. Throughout Iran, women are being turned into second-class citizens, whose realm is their home and nothing more. They are limited in terms of legal recourse for men to answer for any abuses and they must live according to the mullahs’ definition of morality.

The results for women are mixed, but not likely to improve without significant change in the Iranian government and its theocratic regime.


About Siavosh Hosseini (289 Articles)
My background is in the visual arts, particularly in photojournalism. I have had the opportunity to cover scores of international artistic and news events in the US and across Europe since the mid-1980s. I was active in television newsrooms and production as a graphic designer and producer for more than 12 years in different television and news outfits in Europe.

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