Lawyer and Women’s Rights Activist Hopes Discriminatory Passport Law Does Not Pass
Lawyer and women’s rights activist Farideh Gheirat told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that the new Passport and Exit Law bill, which will make it mandatory for girls and women to have the approval of their “guardian” (father, husband, or paternal grandfather) to exit the country, is at odds with the Iranian Constitution. Farideh Gheirat expressed hope that the bill will not be approved.
According to Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA), the resolution that was passed on Tuesday, January 15, allows unmarried women over the age of 18 to obtain passports, but will not allow them to leave the country without permission from their guardians.
The government presented the Parliament with the bill in April 2012, and the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of the Parliament approved it on November 15. According to the bill, single women under the age of 40 will need the official agreement of their guardian or the Sharia Judge. Women’s rights and civil activists were quick to object to the plan. In the end, Parliament members decided to remove the age requirement (40 years old), and separated the law about who can possess a passport from the law which governs exit of women from the country.
“The new resolution poses new restrictions and is certainly not acceptable to us. This law even contradicts the Constitution. The Constitution of the Islamic Republic views everything equally for men and women,” she told the Campaign. “At 18 years of age, men and women earn the right to do many things, and just as men don’t need permission to leave the country, so should women. If there are risks awaiting those who leave the country, they don’t just threaten girls, they also put men at risk,” Farideh Gheirat told the Campaign.
When asked why the MP’s would want to pass this bill, Mehdi Davatgari, a member of the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of the Parliament has been quoted to say, “Members of the Commission believe that Iranian morality demands that girls who are after moral corruption should not be allowed to leave the country.”
According to the new resolution, married women not only need their husbands’ permission for leaving the country, they will also need it for possessing a passport as well. Additionally, if a woman’s father or husband first grants her permission to leave the country but after a while, for whatever reason, rescinds the permission, the woman’s passport will be confiscated.
Although the resolution does not elaborate on who “single women above the age of 18” are specifically, this definition will most likely also include divorced women. At this time many women’s rights activists ask what use would a passport have if they cannot use it to leave the country without the permission of fathers or grandfathers, especially as, according to the same resolution, a husband or a guardian can order confiscation of her passport?
Farideh Gheirat told the Campaign she hopes this resolution would never come to pass. “A [young] woman cannot be the only cause of ‘corruption.’ If a [young] woman’s travel abroad causes ‘corruption,’ the same will be case for [young] men, too. Haven’t we heard that the gentlemen have exported girls abroad for immoral activities? It was the gentlemen who did this. It is not right to strip a woman of her authority to make decisions about her own affairs just because she is a woman. Like men, when a woman reaches the age of 18, she assumes legal maturity and is able to do anything, therefore she should also be allowed to leave the country herself. Why do we say that a woman’s every action could face moral issues? If we are concerned, we must promote morality in the society or do other things. Anyhow, I hope that this resolution will never pass,” she said.
“With such resolutions, MP’s show that they have no relation to nor understanding of the society. This resolution indicates the MP’s unrealistic view to the society and their fear of women. Currently a large part of the women in the society are economically independent and they are even heads of households; rate of education among women is very high and naturally such growth increases their demands, too. Such resolutions are limitations put on women that unless changed, will lead to a backlash from women. Really, what need do hose who are economically independent now have for their ‘guardian’s’ permission to leave the country or not?”va women’s rights reporter who requested anonymity told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.