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Judiciary Official Opposes New Proposal Against Domestic Violence

CHRI - A senior Iranian judiciary official has voiced opposition to legislation against domestic violence which is being revived by President Hassan Rouhani's government after its first unsuccessful draft in parliament five years ago.

According to a study presented at the non-governmental Imam Ali Foundation's May 2017 Conference on Violence Against Women in Peripheral Families, held in Tehran, 32 percent of women in urban areas and 63 percent in rural areas had been victims of domestic violence.

"This proposal has some 100 articles, 70 of which describe situations with criminal implications. They impose prison sentences for every little tension between couples," said Judiciary Assistant for Legal Affairs, Zabihollah Khodaian on August 24, 2017.

"We should not be putting everyone in jail for making mistakes, including husbands and wives who get into fights," he added. "A look at this proposal shows that it has been written without any investigation into this subject and all it does is criminalize the matter."

The judiciary official was reacting to Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Masoumeh Ebtekar's comments on August 22 that the government was determined to "seriously follow up" on a new draft, titled Protecting Women Against Domestic Violence, the contents of which have not yet been made public.

Fighting domestic violence was first raised in 2012 by a member of the women's block in parliament, Zohreh Elahian, a representative from Tehran. She helped draft a bill containing 93 articles in five chapters but it never made it to the floor for a vote by the full legislature.

In January 2017, the Rouhani government announced that the bill was being revised after taking into consideration 250 papers by Iranian scholars, 50 doctoral theses on the subject and 1,200 articles by foreign experts.

Now the original bill has been shortened and re-introduced by the government as an amendment to the country's Islamic Penal Code.

"The vice-presidential office for women and family affairs has proposed a 10-point proposal to amend the Islamic Penal Code, including a provision that when domestic violence occurs, the man must leave the home and the court should issue a restraining order to keep him away," said one of the president's legal advisers, Ashraf Geramizadegan, in May 2017.

"The police and the legal system are not fully implementing current laws to defend women," said reformist female MP Soheila Jelodarzadeh in July 2016. "Unfortunately, if a woman is physically assaulted, she can hardly expect protection from the state."

However, some conservative female politicians have opposed criminalization of domestic violence.

"Violence against women in Iran is rare but in the West, it's a constant trend," said MP Fatemeh Alia in an interview in November 2014. "The government should explain whether it is coming up with ideas to protect women against violence by relying on our own experts or is it just trying to impress international organizations?"