Iran: Information on the way women seek to protect themselves from spousal abuse, under what circumstances family, friends, neighbours, and the religious authorities would intervene when a woman is being abused by her husband, under what circumstances the police would intervene, and whether a married woman or her family can obtain a restraining order against an abusive husband
|Publisher||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||1 July 1998|
|Citation / Document Symbol||IRN29616.E|
|Cite as||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Iran: Information on the way women seek to protect themselves from spousal abuse, under what circumstances family, friends, neighbours, and the religious authorities would intervene when a woman is being abused by her husband, under what circumstances the police would intervene, and whether a married woman or her family can obtain a restraining order against an abusive husband, 1 July 1998, IRN29616.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6ad8143.html [accessed 23 May 2013]|
The following information was provided to the Research Directorate by a professor of adult education, community development, and counselling psychology at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), who publishes on women's issues in Iran and on Islamic law. Whether or not friends or neighbours would intervene when a woman is being abused by her husband depends on the nature of their relationship with the woman and on the kind of help sought by the woman. The traditional attitude towards marital conflict in Iran ( and this is reflected in the legal system as well as in social behaviour generally ( inclines people to try to mediate between the husband and wife. The primary goal of a person who gets involved in a friend's or neighbour's marital dispute is likely to be to find a way to reconcile the couple so as to ensure that they continue to live together, even if the husband is abusive. This attitude is likely to be shared by male relatives of a woman who is being abused by her husband (30 June 1998).
The following information on police intervention in cases of domestic abuse was provided to the Research Directorate by a professor of sociology at Concordia University in Montreal, who specializes in women's issues in Iran. If a woman who is being beaten by her husband calls the police from her home, it is unlikely that they would intervene; however, the woman has the option of going to the police station to lodge a complaint against her husband. If a woman chooses that option, she must produce a medical certificate proving that she has received a serious physical injury (e.g. a broken bone or knife-wound) at the hands of her husband before the police will open a file on the case. Moreover, the professor is not aware of any instance in which the police have opened a file after the first certified instance of physical injury at the hands of a husband. However, the professor believes that the police will usually open a file if a woman produces a certificate of serious injury for a second or third time (26 June 1998).
Regarding the issuance of restraining orders by Iranian courts, the professor said that there is no such thing as a restraining order against a husband in a case where the wife is living with the husband. However, if a married woman can prove to a court that her life is in danger from her husband, the court may allow her to move to her father's home, in which case the husband can be kept away legally (ibid.).
This appears to be corroborated in an article on Iran's Personal Status Law, published in 1996. According to the authors,
A wife may choose to live in a separate residence if she can prove to the court that she has a reasonable fear of physical harm or harm to her reputation. If the court accepts her claim, she is entitled to receive economic support (nafaqa) until the couple reaches an agreement or the marriage ends. However, despite these provisions, it is very difficult for women to convince the court that they are in danger from their husbands. Prior history of abuse is considered evidence of danger only if the battery has caused major injury; this suggests that battery is permitted as long as it does not result in permanent harm or handicap. The judge is left to rule on the severity of a situation, and decisions are highly subjective. (WLUML 1996, 20)
For information on spousal abuse in Iran, please see Responses to Information Requests IRN26039.E of 27 January 1994, IRN19097.E of 19 December 1994, and IRN26714.E of 9 May 1997.
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Professor of counselling psychology, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto. 30 June 1998. Telephone interview.
Professor of sociology, Concordia University, Montreal. 26 June 1998. Telephone interview.
Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML). Fall 1996. Mehranguiz Kar and Homa Hoodfar. "Personal Status Law as Defined by the Islamic Republic of Iran: An Appraisal," Shifting Boundaries in Marriage and Divorce in Muslim Communities. Grabels, France: WLUML.
Additional Sources Consulted
In the Eye of the Storm: Women in Post-Revolutionary Iran. 1994. Edited by Mahnaz Afkhami and Erika Friedl. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.
Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML). 1996. Talaq-i-Tafwid: The Muslim's Woman's Contractual Access to Divorce: An Information Kit. Grabels, France.
_____. October 1995. Reconstructing Fundamentalism and Feminism: The Dynamics of Change in Iran. Grabels, France: WLUML.