Women In Iran Will Be Reduced To ‘Baby-Making Machines’ If New Laws Are Passed

Women will be nothing more than 'baby-making machines' if two new laws aimed at boosting Iran's population are agreed, say Amnesty International.

Women in Iran will be reduced to ‘baby-making machines‘ if two bills aimed at boosting the population are passed, say Amnesty International.

Two separate bills, aimed at encouraging child-bearing to increase the country’s declining population, are being considered and would impose major restrictions on contraceptives as well as further exclude women from the workplace unless they have had a child.

It’s a move that, according to Amnesty International, would set women’s rights back by decades. ‘The authorities are promoting a dangerous culture in which women are stripped of key rights and viewed as baby-making machines rather than human beings with fundamental rights to make choices about their own bodies and lives,’ said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

For the last two decades Iran has run an effective birth control programme, with Iran’s Family and Population Planning Programme offering subsidised vasectomies, free condoms and affordable contraceptives, as well as education on sexual health and family planning.

But the first proposed law, the Bill to Increase Fertility Rates and Prevent Population Decline (Bill 446), would make voluntary sterilization illegal, which is thought to be the second most common method of contraception in Iran, and would block access to information about contraception.

This move would result in greater numbers of unwanted pregnancies, forcing women to opt for illegal and unsafe abortions. Plus, the lack of access to condoms would lead to a rise in sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, say Amnesty.

The second proposed law, The Comprehensive Population and Exaltation of Family Bill (Bill 315), promotes gender-based discrimination particularly for women who choose not to or are unable to get married and have children.

The bill, instructs all ‘private and public entities’ to prioritize, in sequence, men with children, married men without children and married women with children when hiring for certain jobs. It also makes divorce more difficult and discourages police and legal intervention in family disputes opening women up to increased risks of domestic violence.

‘The bills send a message that women are good for nothing more than being obedient housewives and creating babies, and suggests they do not have the right to work or pursue a career until they have fulfilled that primary role and duty,’ says Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

Women play an active role in Iran – they can vote, drive and work alongside men, but gender equality is a long way off, especially with respect to marriage, divorce, child custody, inheritance, travel, and choice of clothing. For example, women are required to wear a hijab, in courts, their testimony is worth only half that of a man, they are banned from studying certain subjects at university and early and forced marriages are common.

‘The Iranian authorities are resorting to the law to try to curb women’s advances in the country and seek to confine them to the roles of mothers and wives,’ said Amnesty. ‘Instead of adding to the catalogue of discrimination Iranian women face, the authorities must recognize that women are human beings with fundamental rights, and rescind such discriminatory laws.’

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