Iran - The Islamic Penal Code of 2013, Books I, II and V - Equality Now
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Iran - The Islamic Penal Code of 2013, Books I, II and V

Articles 199, 209 and 638 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code of 2013, Books I, II and V provide that in cases of adultery and other sexual activity and where diyais involved, the testimony of a woman is worth half that of a man, and women may be imprisoned or fined for failure to wear prescribed Islamic dress.

  • Country: Iran
  • Law status: Discriminatory law in force
  • Law Type: Evidence

Sex discrimination in personal status laws negatively impacts the ability of women to conduct various aspects of their daily lives.

Laws which provide that a woman’s testimony in court is worth only half that of a man’s mean that the woman herself is seen by the law as only worth half that of a man, limiting access to justice and legal remedies. 

Articles 199, 209 and 638 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code of 2013, Books I, II and V provide that in cases of adultery and other sexual activity and where diyais involved, the testimony of a woman is worth half that of a man, and women may be imprisoned or fined for failure to wear prescribed Islamic dress.

Article 199. The standard [of proof] for testimony in all offenses shall be two male witnesses; unless in zina, livat, tafkhiz, and musaheqeh which shall be proved by four male witnesses. In order to prove a zina punishable by the hadd punishment of flogging, shaving [of head] and/or banishment, testimony of two just men and four just women shall be sufficient. If the punishment provided is other than the above, testimony of at least three men and two women shall be required. In such cases, if two just men and four just women testify for the offense, only the hadd punishment of flogging shall be given. Bodily offenses punishable by diya shall also be proved by one male witness and two female witnesses.

Article 209. Where, in financial claims such as diya for bodily offenses, and also in claims which are about claiming a sum of money such as a negligent or quasi-intentional bodily offense which must be compensated by a diya, the private claimant is unable to provide an admissible evidence which meets the requirements under Shari’a, s/he [still] can produce one male witness or two female witnesses together with an oath and prove the financial part of his/her claim.

Article 638. Women who appear in public without prescribed Islamic dress (hejab-e-shar’i), shall be sentenced to either imprisonment of between 10 days and 2 months, or a fine of between 50,000 and 500,000 rials.

Note:

Zina is defined as illicit sex outside of marriage. Livat, tafkhiz and musaheqeh are defined as various forms of homosexual sexual activity either between men or women. Hadd is a punishment for certain crimes as specified under Shari’a. Diya are fines imposed under Shari’a for certain crimes.

Article 20 of the Constitution of Iran: All citizens of the country, both men and women, equally enjoy the protection of the law and enjoy all human, political, economic, social and cultural rights, in conformity with Islamic criteria.

However, all provisions of the Constitution can be superseded by Islamic principles as per Article 4 of the Constitution: All civil, penal financial, economic, administrative, cultural, military, political, and other laws and regulations must be based on Islamic criteria. This principle applies absolutely and generally to all articles of the Constitution as well as to all other laws and regulations, and the fuqaha' of the Guardian Council are judges in this matter.

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