Subject: Women's Health Endangered
Alert Date: 27 May 1998
Case Number: IR9806
Human Rights Issues
The Iranian Islamic Consultative Assembly has initially approved legislation that may seriously jeopardize women's health. The law, currently under final consideration, requires full segregation of health services provided in hospitals based on gender. Because the number of female doctors in the country will not meet the demand of Iran's 30 million women, many women will be deprived adequate access to health care.
The proposed segregation of health services appears to be part of a pattern described by women's groups as a widening system of "gender apartheid." At a medical conference in Tehran, a Member of Parliament criticized an Iranian surgeon who spoke out against the proposed gender segregation in health care. The next day, he was beaten by members of Ansar-e Hezbollahi (Partisans of the Party of God), a vigilante group that enforces religious orthodoxy. Similar incidents have occurred on past occasions when officials have criticized individuals opposing government policies. Parliament has also passed legislation prohibiting the discussion of women's issues or rights other than those interpreted by the ruling clerics to fall under Islamic law.
If passed, legislation resulting in the denial of adequate access to medical care by women would constitute serious violations of international human rights standards, including those enumerated in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which were ratified by Iran on 24 June 1975. These rights include:
Under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights:
Under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:
(Sources of information on this case include the Sisterhood is Global Institute (SIGI), the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, and Human Rights Watch.)