Annual Survey of International & Comparative Law


In recent years Iran has primarily been under international scrutiny because of concerns over its development of a nuclear program. However, there have been other developments in Iran that also raise grave concerns among the international community. Since the 1990s, the Rights of Women have been one of the major categories of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Iran. The current direction of the Iranian government, with regard to improving women’s fundamental rights, seems to be back to the “good old days” rather than towards modernizing and humanizing strict patriarchal law. To best understand these current backward steps, it is useful to briefly examine the historical legal background that constitutes the struggle of Iranian women over the past two or more millennia.

To place the critical events concerning the status of Iranian women today in perspective, this paper will first examine the fundamental legal discrimination against women during some key historical periods of change. This will include a review of critical ancient times through the Arab Conquest. Next, the article will examine more modern history beginning with the Ghajar dynasty. Finally, the article shall return to examine more closely the most progressive legal developments for women during the Pahlavi rule and distortion of women’s legal rights under Islamic Revolution as well as its relations to violations of international human rights.

Cite as: 20 Annl. Survey Int'l. Comp. L. 201 (2014).