The Iranian authorities have been accused of trying to turn women into “baby-making machines” with a series of strict new measures designed to boost the nation’s fertility rate.
According to Amnesty International, two laws are being considered by the Iranian parliament that would “set the rights of women and girls in Iran back by decades”.
Voluntary sterilisation – vasectomies – would be banned under the first of the new laws, dubbed the “Bill to Increase Fertility Rates and Prevent Population Decline”. It is believed to be the second-most common method of contraception in Iran.
The law would also actively block access to information about contraception, which Amnesty said would result in more unwanted pregnancies and dangerous illegal abortions. The measure would make it even harder for women to get contraceptives, three years after Iran quietly shelved its only state-funded family planning programme.
Amnesty’s director for the Middle East and North Africa, Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, said: “The authorities are promoting a dangerous culture in which women are stripped of key rights and viewed as baby-making machines rather than human beings with fundamental rights to make choices about their own bodies and lives.
In pictures: Iranian women remove their hijabs
“In their zealous quest to project an image of military might and geopolitical strength by attempting to increase birth rates, Iran’s authorities are trampling all over the fundamental rights of women - even the marital bed is not out of bounds.”
A second law addresses women’s right to work, as well as providing financial incentives to judges who reject divorce proceedings even in cases of domestic violence.
Amnesty’s report, released today, said the bill would force certain hiring employers to prioritise men with children, married men without children and then married women with children (in that order) ahead of women who have not given birth.
The charity said activists including the painter Atena Farghadani, 26, have been jailed by the authorities in relation to campaigns against the new laws.Reuse content