Opposing the Family Protection Bill: Statement of the Coalition of Women’s Rights Activists and Groups Against the "Family Protection Bill"
Monday 18 August 2008
Translated by: Sussan Tahmasebi
Change for Equality: Today the future of the Iranian family has entered a sensitive and decisive phase. The 8th parliament is considering the passage of a Bill into law titled: "the Family Protection Bill." The Bill has become infamous among women’s rights activists who refer to as the "Anti Family Bill." The Bill was introduced in August of 2007 by the Administration of Mr. Ahmadinejad to the Parliament. On July 9, 2008, the Bill was approved by the Legal and Judicial Commission of Parliament and as such is scheduled to come up for consideration and ratification by the full Parliament any day.
• Women’s lack of legal rights have been reinforced through this Bill. This piece of legislation not only does not seek to end the practice of polygamy but it in fact encourages polygamy by placing on men who wish to take on additional wives the sole condition of financial capacity as the deciding factor by the courts.
• The "Family Support Act" not only reinforces women’s lack of rights in obtaining a divorce, it extends the procedure and waiting period for obtaining a divorce, thus imposing greater difficulties and obstacles on women in this process.
• The "Anti Family Bill" not only does not prohibit the practice of temporary marriage for married men, it does not require the registration of such marriages.
• Not only does the "Anti Family Bill" not grant married women unconditional rights to employment, it imposes a tax on their Mehrieh at the time of marriage.[i]
• Not only are there no supports provided to the Family in the "Anti Family Bill", the outdated and inhumane laws promoted in this piece of legislation will work only to push the family unit toward instability and crisis.
• Given the points mentioned above, we clearly can see that this legislation, instead of providing "support" to the family works to "undermine" the concept of human relationships between men and women in the family structure.
• The inhumane components in the "Anti Family Bill" are being introduced to the Parliament by the Administration at a time when we are increasingly witnessing human catastrophes resulting from inequities promoted in the laws. For example we can mention the increased crime rate, increased rates of violence against women and children, and increased rates of spousal murder resulting from lack of women’s rights to divorce. Family courts are filled with cases which speak of families who have reached dead ends. If the inequities of our laws were appropriately addressed and changed, we would certainly be witness to a different set of circumstances.
For these reasons, we the signatories of this statement, who have worked for years to address the tragedies that result from these laws, have come together to create a broad coalition. We hope that by pulling together women’s rights activists we will be able to play a decisive role in the future of the women of our country and promote a just relationship between men and women within the family, based on humanity and compassion. As such, we invite others regardless of their backgrounds and ideological leanings, their ethnicities and religions, to support the women of their country, and to join us in this coalition, so that by utilizing our experiences and capacities we can work collectively to prevent the adoption of this legislation into law.
Initial groups signing on to this Coalition:
Change for Equality, the Site of the One Million Signatures Campaign
Women’s Organization of Iran
Organization of Female Journalists
Organization of Human Rights Defenders
The Mothers Committee of the One Million Signatures Campaign
The Public Relations Committee of the One Million Signatures Campaign
The Workshop Committee of the Campaign
The One Million Signatures Campaign in California
The Human Rights Committee of the Organization of Iranian Alumni (ADVAR)
Hastia Andish NGO
Mothers for Peace
Assembly of Reformist Women
Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan
Independent Organization of Students and Alumni of Qazvin
Iranian Cultural Network in Europe
Cultural Research Organization of Iran—Sweden
Student Committee for Defense of Political Prisoners
The site of the People’s Voice
For more information on this coalition and other signatories, as well as developments with respect to the "Family Protection Bill" visit:
[i] Mehrieh is a sum of money agreed upon by the husband and wife as a condition of the marriage contract. This sum is payable to the wife upon her demand, but it is often paid to her at the time of divorce. Because women have so few rights in Marriage and especially in obtaining a divorce, they often have to forgo their Mehrieh to obtain a divorce or as a condition for other rights (for example when their husbands take on second wives, a woman can demand her Mehrieh). As such, a Mehrieh has transformed into a practice that works to guarantee minimal rights for women in marriage or divorce. This bill, imposes a tax on monies that women have not yet received or may never receive, working to undermine the minimal guarantees that women have in the Iranian legal system.