Demand of the Campaign Reviewed by Parliament
Reform of Dieh on the Agenda of Iran’s Parliament
Wednesday 6 June 2007
Change for Equality: The Islamic Consultative Assembly, Iran’s Parliament will be placing on its legislative agenda, the issue of equal Dieh or blood money for both men and women, which is one of the demands made by the One Million Signatures Campaign.
In an interview with Etemad Daily Member of Parliament, Elham Aminzadeh, explained, "there have been discussions in the women’s fraction of the Parliament about introduction of legislation which seeks to address inequality of Dieh or blood money for men and women, and we hope that even if this legislation is vetoed by the Guardian Council, that the Expediency Council takes steps to support it."
Ms. Aminzadeh’s comments come on the heels of support voiced by Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani for taking steps toward equalizing Dieh for men and women. His support for this issue was voiced during a meeting with conservative women.
Rafsanjani who is the head of the Expediency Council explained that besides himself, other Islamic jurists believe that Dieh for men and women should be equal. "Members of Parliament can introduce legislation to address disparities of Dieh between men and women. If the Seventh Parliament passes this legislation, it will be a source of pride for us, but if they fail to pass the legislation or if it is blocked by the Guardian Council, we can take steps to ensure its passage into law within the Expediency Council."
Rafsanjani went further to emphasize that the reform of certain laws in the civil code, which have created problems for women are essential. "Currently lack of compatibility of some laws which are not in line with the current needs of society can be felt," explained Rafsanjani.
Elham Aminzadeh, was hopeful that given the fact that the previous parliament passed legislation equalizing Dieh for non-Muslims, legislation seeking to increase the Dieh for women, so that it is equal Dieh for men, should be able to pass the parliament. Aminzadeh added that she is in favor of equal Dieh for women and if legislation on this issue was introduced in the Parliament, she would support it.
Equal Dieh for women and men is one of the demands of the One Million Signatures Campaign, which was initiated in August 2006. The Campaign seeks to end legal discrimination against women in Iran, through the collection of signatures asking for legal reform. Dieh is the monetary value accorded for bodily injury or death, which is paid to victims by those committing crimes resulting in bodily injury. In cases of purposeful murder or unintended death, Dieh is paid to the victim’s family. In Iranian law, the value of a woman’s life is assessed at half that of a man’s. As such, if a sister and brother have an accident, and both suffer from a broken leg, the monetary compensation paid by the driver at fault to the brother is twice the sum paid to the sister. If both brother and sister die as a result of the accident, the sum paid to their family for the brother is twice that of the sister. If a woman who is 5 months pregnant with a male child, has an accident and dies as a result, the person causing the death must pay Dieh for both the mother and the unborn child, but the sum paid for the mother is half that of the unborn male child.
The demand for equal Dieh was first put forth in the summer of 2002 through legislation introduced jointly by the executive branch and the judiciary. This legislation sought to equalize the sum of Dieh for Muslims and non-Muslim minorities. Those in support of equal Dieh for men and women believed that the passage of legislation on the Dieh of non-muslim minorities, would pave the way for passage of similar legislation concerning women. But as Fatemeh Rakei’i member of the reformist (sixth) parliament and a supporter of the Campaign points out, "at that time, there were certain objections raised, and as a result this issue was not taken up the sixth parliament."
Of course, other laws in this regard have also been adopted. Most recently with respect to transfusions of contaminated blood leading to HIV/AIDs, equal monetary compensation or Dieh was paid to victims for the first time. Ali Saberi, the lawyer representing victims in this case, was able to secure compensation from the government for his clients. This was the first time since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, where equal Dieh in the form of monetary compensation for both male and female victims was provided by the government. "Currently with respect to equal Dieh for men and women, there has been one such ruling and these rulings can increase," explains Saberi. "In fact, the experience of reforming the laws with respect to equal Dieh for non-Muslims can hold valuable lessons for women’s rights activists."
Equal Dieh for men and women has also been supported in the form of Fatwa’s issued by Islamic Jurists and Ulama. Ayatollah Sanei’i for example has issued a Fatwa which equates the sum of Dieh for men and women. Referring to rulings by Moghadass Ardebili, who based on the absence of Quranic verses which set women’s Dieh at half of a man’s, has declared the sum of Dieh for both sexes equal, Ayatollah Sanei’i in his official website, explains that "after further study, I realized that the ruling by Moghadasse Ardebili was in fact correct, and I too have come to believe that Dieh for men and women should be equal."
Ayatollah Fazel Meybodi, member of the Central Council of the Organization of Scholars and Researchers of Qom Seminary, in an interview with the site of Change for Equality, the official site of the Campaign, claimed that Dieh for women as it currently stands is unjust. "Today, men and women are present as equals in the workforce, and in terms of their income, and in some families, women are heads of households. As such, declaring women’s Dieh, as half that of men, with the justification that men are the breadwinners, is in fact unjust and unacceptable."
Ayatollah Bojnourdi also believes that the sum of Dieh for women and men should be equal, attesting further to the lack of support for unequal Dieh in Sharia law and Islamic jurisprudence. In this respect, in an interview with the Islamic Student News Agency, ISNA, Bojnourdi has claimed that "given the fact that women have economic activity and perhaps it could rightly be claimed that men do not support women, the Dieh of men and women should be equal."
According to religious scholars and researchers, unequal Dieh has not been mentioned in the Quran. In fact, according to Jila Movahed Shariatpanahi, author of "New Interpretations of the Quran on Women’s Rights" and a member of the Campaign, "certain verses in the Quran can be interpreted to support the concept of equal Dieh for women and men."
This notion is also confirmed by those opposed to equal Dieh for men and women. For example, Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi in his statement opposing equal Dieh, confirms that "in the Holy Quron, there is no mention of a woman’s Dieh, and that the rate of Dieh for women, has been adopted from religious interpretation of the Sunni and other traditions."
Translated by: Sussan Tahmasebi