Departure from Iran, With the Permission of the Husband, With the Permission of the Government!
By: Zohreh Arzani
Wednesday 25 February 2009
Translated by: Tara
We Iranians and women face lots of difficulties when traveling to most of the countries of the world. This is because the majority of the countries require obtaining entry visa for Iranians and sometimes getting entry visa is like the “Haft Khan-e-Rostam” [author referring to the difficulty in conquering the seven wonders] or the “mystical journey to the seven cities of love” (Haft Shahr-e-Eshgh-e-Orafa). The same is true about the preliminaries of the trip.
This “Haft Khan-e-Rostam” has internal aspects as well. One after putting up with all the difficulties goes to the airport to leave the country for a period of time. The first thing he or she has to do is delivering baggage, getting boarding pass and depositing the departure taxes. Then, with a sort of comfort, the passenger goes to the passport check department to leave the country upon receiving the departure stamp. However, nowadays this last part is the most difficult part for some passengers. They believe that there is no problem for departure, but all of a sudden, they figure out that they have been travel banned. As a result of this travel ban, instead of the departure stamp, they will receive a form that says the person is banned from traveling and their passports will be retained. However, this is not the whole story.
Recently, another method has been used commonly. The passport of the passenger in the passport check department will be stamped. On the other side of the check point, either an official is waiting for the person or the person’s name will be called from the airport’s microphone and the traveler is summoned to somewhere or even, the passenger will be taken out of the airplane. In case of protest by the passenger, there will be a short answer, “you are banned from traveling.” If the person is lucky enough, he or she will be summoned in the passport check point, and he or she can at least go back and take back the luggage. If the person is taken out of the plane or struggles with the official who told him or her about the travel ban, there is a possibility that the luggage would leave the country without the passenger.
However, people have the right to go to the passport office and ask whether they are banned from travel or not.
Deprived from the right to travel:
According to the articles of 16th and 17th of immigration laws, it is exactly defined that the authorities are able to ban what group of people as well as individuals they can avoid to give passport to. By reading these articles, the people who are banned from travel are divided to five (5) groups:
1. People who are in financial debt as well as people whose debt has been registered by the court or institution of records.
2. People who are marked with bad reputation and/or as illegitimate outside of Iran.
3. People who are banned from traveling because of a judiciary order. According to article 133 of penal judiciary laws, the public prosecutor has the power to not only issue the punishments, but also to issue the travel ban. However, the period is six months and the issued order should be conveyed to the accused person. She or he has twenty days for objection.
4. People whose travel outside of the country is inconsistent with the Islamic republic’s interests.
5. People who has to have permission from another person in order to receive a passport or to travel to outside of Iran.
Members of this group are able to pay their debts according to the laws. They have to receive a letter from the authority, which ordered their travel ban and deliver it to the passport office to get their passports back and travel. Additionally, in this case, especially if the person is financially able, he or she can solve the problem in one day. For example, a woman requested her dowry, and asked for her husband’s travel ban to make him pay her the dowry. The husband was informed about his travel ban in the Imam Khomeini Airport. After getting the necessary information such as the code of the travel ban letter, he went to the appropriate office and took care of the ban by paying the amount (200 million Tooman). The next morning, he would call his wife from abroad and told her to go to the registrar office and receive her dowry. Therefore, in this case, they can take care of the travel ban, easily.
The final decision for this group will be made by a special group formed for this purpose. In order to remove their travel bans, they have to acknowledge what they have done, and by acting differently and eliminating the doubts try to convince the group to trust them, and finally, receive passports.
People with Penal Files
The third group has been banned from traveling because of a judiciary, penal file. For example, the person is accused of a crime and according to the constitution; an order was issued for this crime. Additionally, the judiciary official has the power to issue travel ban for the accused. If the accused person has any objections, he or she can protest to a higher rank official. Unfortunately, we witness the travel ban for some people who are political or social activists and are intending to attend a conference or seminar abroad. All of a sudden, in the airport they figure out that they have been travel banned. These people do not have any files in the courts and have not received any summons about their travel bans. Some of these banned travelers will be summoned to the courts after they are informed of their bans and will be investigated. Furthermore, if these people are not banned from traveling again after six months, they will be able to go abroad. However, if the judiciary official insists on the travel ban, he can renew it till the file and the investigation have been completed. However, he cannot continue the ban for the same reason after the file has been completed.
For no Reasons! To Protect the Interests of the Discipline
The forth group consists of the people who might not have any penal files, meaning that they haven’t committed any crimes. However, their travel is against the interests of the Islamic Republic and they have been banned from traveling by the judiciary officials. The Emphasis of the writer on the matter that they do not have any penal files is because in the previous paragraph, this subject matter was fully explained. The destiny of these people is vague because the judiciary official hasn’t defined any authorities for them such that they can refer to and object against. There is not a time period for this verdict either. It is possible that for so many years, the red stamp of the travel ban will remain on their passports.
The right to travel is a natural right for everyone and no authority unless in an exceptional condition, should not take this right away, especially when the person does not know the reason for this ban.
Married Women! To Protect the Husband’s Interest
The fifth group consists of people who can get passport and leave the country, based upon someone else’s permission and will; not an authority or a reference, but the husband of a married woman or the parents of people under the age of Eighteen (18). This is natural for the people under the age of Eighteen (18), because they are still considered as children. However, in most of the countries, getting passports and traveling abroad is dependent of both father and mother’s permission while such is not true in our country.
About the married women, part 3 of article 18 clearly declares that getting a passport and leaving the country depend on the husband’s will. The addressor of it can be all of us, the married women who can be deprived from the right of having passport and traveling because of our husband’s will. This right is a general right that has been given to the husband. In addition, there are some exceptions that sometimes the banned person in urgent conditions can get the permission of the court. However, the urgency was not defined but the guardian council in principle 1352 of year 1363 claimed that this law is for the holy pilgrimage to Mecca. Therefore, for the holy religious pilgrimage, the women face no problems. In other urgent cases, the court will decide.
This matter will happen with the written permission of the husband to the office of passport. There is no need for documentation or reasons. There is no time period to it. The permission will be useless if the husband decides to, or divorce or if he dies. In the very urgent matters, usually just for once and for a limited period of time, the court will give permission. The number of women who have been banned from traveling by their husbands is not usually a few but because it is not expressed just like the travel ban of the social and political activists, people won’t be informed of it. Additionally, there is no exact statistics. Sometimes the divorced women figure out in the airport that their spouses had banned them from traveling before the divorce and did not even try to tell them what they don’t even inform their wives of such and then the women have to go to the passport office and take care of the matter by showing their divorce documents. These women after a great amount of effort and financial investment will notice in the airport that their ex-spouse banned them from traveling abroad. Not only they miss their flights, but also they have to refer to the passport office and show them all the documents to take back their passports.
Sometimes, women have problems with their husbands. Also, because of their professions, they have to travel abroad. They are afraid of filing for divorce because they are scared that their husbands might ban them from traveling. Sometimes, they try hard to convince the husbands to divorce while they is mutual consent. However, sometimes they have to leave the country and hire an attorney to help them to get divorce.
It seems like this group are in the worst condition because there is only one person’s will that governs their right to travel, the husband’s will. This will is similar to the male-dominant ideas that exist in the Constitutional laws of the country which also prevents the women activists from traveling abroad. But, in such case it is the will of the government which takes the right of traveling from the women.