Essay on Women Rights in Iran

Published: 2021/11/24
Number of words: 1816


The fight for gender equality and women’s rights has been an ongoing movement for years. With the exception of elements such as the still existing glass ceiling, sexual violence, and domestic abuse, women in the West have made significant progress in their quest for gender equality. In contemporary Iran, women have had a higher share in joining colleges and excelling even to graduation. They have secured professional positions, gained places of authority, and exercised their rights to vote. While being fundamentally seen as equal to the opposite sex and having access to all these rights, the feminist movement still exists. The fight for total equality is not over for women in Western society. Consider a society where women are seen less than men and restrictions imposed on fundamental human rights based on employment, expression, marriage, and citizenship. This is the society that exists within the Islamic Republic of Iran. Although the severity of gender inequality in Western society is far less than in Iran, civilians have the right to create a movement and join several protests for this cause. In contrast, this experience is nearly impossible in Iran as the right to freedom of assembly and association and freedom of speech are not protected. In this essay, I will be discussing the plight and revolutions of women’s rights in Iran, gender inequality and human rights violations from pre-Islamic times to the present, and the consequences of protesting and fighting for one’s rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Women in Iran undergo abuse and discrimination at the hands of authorities and even in families. Although the international community has endeavored to exercise international law on Iran with regard to women’s treatment, their efforts have been met with failure (Greenblatt, 2020). This is attributed to the argument that the Iranian government is not bound by international law. The social, cultural, and religious systems in Iran allow them to treat women as they wish. It’s an aspect of cultural relativism. Generally, in the Middle East, women have shared common discriminations. However, over recent years protests have revolutionized the system towards universalism. Nevertheless, the protests have resulted in arrests and more torture to women, but the fight for equality remains.

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The violation of women’s rights has been evident following the country’s political, cultural, and religious aspects. A patriarchal system has been in place since the old days where women and children are controlled by husbands, fathers, or other male relatives. For instance, during the subsequent wars experienced in Iran, such as the Iran-Iraq war, many women were arrested and imprisoned. As a result of the war, women were tortured and raped (Abueish, 2020). Over the years, women in the Middle East have suffered following civil wars and attacks in Iran. Following the social and cultural settings in Iran, women are controlled by the masculine gender, and as a result, they are subject to men’s decisions. Such decisions could be engaged in war, and since they lack the voice to stop conflicts and attacks, they always remain victims. From the old days, the war resulted from any conflicts, and countries helping other countries fight formed a basis for chaos and mistreatment of women. During such wars, women’s rights, such as free from mistreatment, free from slavery, and free from violence, were violated. However, with reduced wars in the contemporary era, women have.

Even in this 21st century, women’s violence in the middle east countries is rampant. It is mostly due to domestic violence is not considered a crime (Saffari et al., 2017). In this region, wife battering can be debated to instill discipline in the female partners. It does not surprise then that even murder committed under domestic violence is treated lightly relative to other forms of murder in Iranian law. The issue of honor killings is also a nightmare haunting Iranian women even during the COVID-19 pandemic (Pirnia, 2020). This violence against women is an indigenous tradition that is still carried in the current century. Women are killed if, for example, they try to refrain from a forced marriage, opt for divorce, caught committing adultery, or being a victim of rape. All these killings are made as a punishment for bringing disgrace to the family. The Iranian legislature is not equipped to deliver the deserved justice to this violence. For example, a father convicted of murdering his daughter might argue his case based on honorable killing. And since the matter is considered domestic violence and hence viewed as a private family matter, the father can receive as low as three years for murdering his daughter.

Sexual harassment is another form of violence experienced by women in Iran. Ranging from forced marriages, marrying off girls at a young age, and wife battering are some of the harassment the Iranian women go through despite the worldwide civilization and evolution (Shishehgar et al., 2015). Women do not have a say on who they are going to be married to; their fathers or grandfathers do all the decision-making. As young as 13 years, daughters are married off to older men, who can legally perform any sexual activities. According to Iranian law, it is legal for girls to be married at 13 years. Despite numerous attempts to raise the legal age for girls to be married, it has proved futile. Besides, they are forced to wear a hijab (BBC News, 2019).

Forced migration is mainly due to political factors and the unending war in Iran. Families are forced to move from their homes and relocate to different places (Shishehgar, 2015). Although forced migration affects both women and men, it takes a toll on women. As a consequence of forced migration, Iranian women are prone to several challenges. Social marginalization is one of the challenges encountered when these women move to say their neighboring countries to seek a better future; this is due to their social networks’ loss and takes them to fit in and create another social circle.

Iranian women face health issues under forced migration—adverse health consequences including depression and anxiety. The migration process and the events that forced them to migrate from their homes, mainly war, can lead to depression, more so if they lost their loved ones in moving. Therefore, apart from Iranian women facing the challenge of adapting to the new country, they also face mental health issues (Golestaneh, 2015). Generally, it can be difficult for them to access health care. To survive, Iranian women are forced to do odd jobs such as prostitution (Irandoost, 2020). Life in the new country of relocation can turn out to be very difficult. Therefore, forced migration has a larger effect on these women.

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Furthermore, in Iran, women have suffered from displacements, thereby being hither and thither (Noor, 2014). Such displacements could be due to banishing, women fleeing to other countries, and political upheavals. Based on the view that Iranian women lack control of their welfare and major decisions of their life, they are faced with tough rules and failure to adhere; they are punished, banished, and even displaced. The displaced women have been denied employment and education, adding to their suffering. However, displacements occur in countries, but women are a minority, especially in the Middle East, suffer more being dragged along with their children. In addition, displaced Iranian women face racism in the diaspora, and the desire to cling to old traditions increases. This depicts how dependent Iranian women have lived to be with limited freedom.


Before and after the Islamic Revolution, women have undergone discrimination and violent experiences. The physical and sexual violence, predefined dress code, i.e., hijab, the lack of freedom of speech, freedom to contest places of authority, have denied women the right to fair treatment, right to overall health, and the right to earn wages and vote. In the contemporary era in the Middle East, revolutions have risen and pushed for a percentage if not full share of the freedom to choose of lifestyle. Many women have chosen to flee their countries and embrace a western culture where they feel free. However, even such escapes, the Middle East, tracked such women and tried to return them to their social and cultural settings. This depicts how women’s rights have been violated over the years, even today. For instance, in Tehran, protests against the enforced hijab wear have impacted, and women manipulated the dress code to wear a scarf. Also, women are prohibited from bathing in public, but nowadays, women have embraced that although in hideouts. Such rebellious acts are giving women the strength to push for a just world in the Middle East. Moreover, in the old days, women suffered unemployment, forced marriages, and prohibition from watching sports. In this regard, women have remained under the control of men, with some even denied the freedom to drive in the Middle East. Consequently, such denials, violence, forced migration, and displacements have rendered women a weak gender, easily controlled and unproductive in Iran. However, Iran has begun to appreciate women of war, started to allow women to vote, to work, acquire education, and so much more towards a revolutionized Iran.


Abueish, T. (2020). Women reveal suffering torture, rape in Iran’s prisons in new Al Arabiya documentary. Retrieved 24 February 2021, from

BBC News. (2019). Iranian women – before and after the Islamic Revolution. BBC News. Retrieved 24 February 2021, from

Golestaneh, H. (2015). The Emotional Impact of Forced Migration on Iranian-Americans (Doctoral dissertation, Antioch University).

Greenblatt, M. (2020). Women in Iran: Political representation without rights. Middle East Institute. Retrieved 24 February 2021, from

Irandoost, S. F., Ziapour, A., Gharehghani, M. A. M., Azar, F. E. F., Soofizad, G., Khosravi, B., & Solhi, M. (2020). Experiences and challenges of Prostitute Women in Iran: A phenomenological qualitative study. Heliyon6(12), e05649.

Noor, A. N. I. L. A. (2014). Iranian Women in the Diaspora:‘Being Here and Being There.’. International Institute of Social Studies.

Pirnia, B., Pirnia, F., & Pirnia, K. (2020). Honour killings and violence against women in Iran during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lancet Psychiatry7(10), e60.

Saffari, M., Arslan, S. A., Yekaninejad, M. S., Pakpour, A. H., Zaben, F. A., & Koenig, H. G. (2017). Factors associated with domestic violence against women in Iran: An exploratory multicenter community-based study. Journal of interpersonal violence, 0886260517713224.

Shishehgar, S., Gholizadeh, L., DiGiacomo, M., & Davidson, P. M. (2015). The impact of migration on the health status of Iranians: an integrative literature review. BMC international health and human rights15(1), 1-11.

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