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Iran approves bill to protect women against domestic violence

A woman browses a copy of Iranian Farsi newspaper Shargh featuring the 2020 US general election results at a news stand in Iran's capital Tehran on November 8, 2020. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)
A woman browses a copy of Iranian Farsi newspaper Shargh [ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images]

The Iranian government approved a long-awaited bill on Sunday addressing domestic violence against women. The proposed law is aimed at the "Protection, Dignity and Security of Women against Violence" and covers actions or behaviour that causes "physical or mental harm".

The bill has been under review since September 2019. It was passed by the cabinet of President Hassan Rouhani following "hundreds of hours of expertise", according to Iran's vice president for women's and family affairs, Massoumeh Ebtekar.

However, the bill still needs to be reviewed and approved by parliament before being passed to the country's Guardian Council. The council is made up of jurists and religious experts who have the power to veto legislation passed by parliament if they consider it to be inconsistent with the constitution and Islamic law.

In a report last month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that the bill falls short of international standards but acknowledged that it contained a number of positive provisions.

"While the draft law defines violence against women broadly and criminalises various forms of violence, it does not criminalise some forms of gender-based violence, such as marital rape and child marriage," said HRW. "The draft law also does not tackle a number of discriminatory laws including personal-status laws that lawyers said leave women more vulnerable to domestic violence."

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