According to a report released by Amnesty International this week, the Iranian government is currently working on two bills that would endanger women’s reproductive health and damage the concept of marriage. One bill would outlaw voluntary sterilization and restrict access to education on contraceptives. The other bill targets males and would force businesses to prioritize new hires in an order specific to their marital status and number of kids (men with children, married men with no children, and married men with children).
Amnesty International released a statement Wednesday condemning the bills.
“These bills, if adopted, would have serious consequences for women and teenage girls, leaving them with a future shaped by increased inequality, discrimination, poor health, limited choices and restricted freedoms,” it said.
Many have said that the bills effectively reduce women to nothing more than “baby-making machines” and that they essentially force men and women into marriage. The bills discriminate against women and turn childbirth and marriage into a necessity rather than a choice. Not only that, but the second bill allows employers to discriminate against women as well as men, based on marital status and children.
It can be argued that the law on business will also make forced marriages and child brides more common than before. Presently, more than 55% of marriages worldwide are arranged marriages, according to data from UNICEF. Data also provides that nearly one million children in Iran are married, with 85% being female. According to Al-Jazeera, the laws will not only encourage earlier marriages, but they will also make divorce much more difficult.
The bills come after a call to double the population of Iran in the next 50 years by its Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, in 2012. Since the Iran-Iraq War, Iran’s population has spiraled downwards, according to the UN. According to Khameini, more births will “strengthen national identity” and counter the “undesirable aspects of Western life.”
These bills are entirely unethical and inhumane. For a human rights watch group like Amnesty International to condemn them just shows that they will have a negative impact on humanity and push the country back years in history. These bills are an outrageous attack on all people in the country as they affect both men and women. Not only are they highly discriminatory towards both sexes, but also they are extremely dangerous to women’s health and reproductive rights. By discriminating against women and disabling them from voluntary sterilization and contraceptive education, Iran will be hurting its people and any progress it’s made.
Photo Credit: FATEMEH BAHRAMI / AA / ABACA PRESS / POLARI