By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL
A senior Iranian lawmaker has announced the cancellation of controversial new legal measures that would have imposed new travel restrictions on Iranian women.
The proposed changes to the country’s passport law were introduced in the 290-seat Majlis last year and would have required single women up to the age of 40 to obtain official permission from their father or male guardian before they could acquire foreign travel documents.
The bill, which was reportedly approved by parliament’s National Security Commission, triggered protests by women’s rights activists and others.
The announcement of the bill’s cancellation was made earlier this week by Fatemeh Rahbar, the head of parliament’s Women and Family Committee.
“We were against it when it was approved because a woman at the age of 40 can make decisions for herself,” Rahbar was quoted as saying by Iranian news agencies.
Supporters of the proposed changes said the measures were aimed at protecting women.
Rahbar said the results of an investigation had persuaded lawmakers that only a handful of women had run-ins with the law while traveling abroad.
“These studies showed that only 76 individuals aren’t competent to travel outside the country without authorization,” she said, adding, “Therefore, the whole thing was dropped.”
When they were introduced last year, the proposed measures were seen as another attack on Iranian women, who already face legal discrimination and are forced to observe an Islamic dress code.
Last December, the spokeswoman of the women’s faction in parliament, Laleh Eftekhari, said the bill violated Articles 20 and 21 of Iran’s constitution.
Article 20 says all citizens, both men and women, should equally enjoy the protection of the law and all rights, in conformity with Islamic criteria.
Article 21 says the government must ensure the rights of women in all respects, in accordance with Islamic criteria.
Under current law, all Iranians under 18 years of age, both male and female, must receive paternal permission before they can obtain international travel documents.
Historic Photo: The board of directors of "Jam'iat e nesvan e vatan-khah"
A women's rights association in Tehran (1923-1933)
Source: Book: Iranian women in Mashrouteh movement, by Abdolhossein Nahid
Women's rights in Iran
Copyright (c) 2013 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
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