May 10, 2024

Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA), along with 15 other human rights organizations, have released a joint statement urging the international community and human rights activists to unite in condemning Iran’s restrictive policies on sexual and reproductive rights. They also call for using diplomatic channels to demand the abolition of discriminatory laws. These organizations request that the Islamic Republic revoke laws restricting abortion and reinstate comprehensive family planning programs. The signatories of this statement emphasize that the Iranian government must comply with international health standards and cooperate with the United Nations to ensure women have access to the highest level of reproductive health care.

 

Read the full statement below:

 

Civil Society Calls on the International Community to Urgently Condemn Iran’s Assault on Women’s Autonomy and Right to Health

 

Washington D.C. Friday, May 10, 2024 –In the past decade, Iran has intensified its efforts to limit women’s fundamental rights, notably in the sphere of reproductive autonomy. This trend underscores a broader pattern within the country, where women’s rights are facing persistent and escalating restrictions. Under the guise of addressing declining population growth, the government has introduced increasingly discriminatory legislation severely limiting access to vital sexual and reproductive healthcare and family planning services such as access to abortion, essential prenatal screening and contraception. These measures criminalize healthcare providers and strip women of bodily autonomy, perpetuating systemic discrimination, now widely acknowledged.

Considering the persistent discriminatory legislation against women’s sexual and reproductive healthcare and with insights from HRA‘s latest report, Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Iran: Battling Restrictive Laws and Discriminatory Practices, which includes grim conversations with women and providers directly affected, the undersigned organizations urge decisive international action to address systemic violations of women’s sexual and reproductive rights in Iran.

 

The undersigned organizations call upon the international community to:

  • Immediate Condemnation The international community and activists must unite in condemning Iran’s restrictive sexual and reproductive policies, urging the repeal of discriminatory laws including through diplomatic channels, where available.
  • Engagement with International/Intergovernmental Institutions Engage with international and intergovernmental institutions to raise awareness and advocate for action. Importantly, UNFPA, in its work toward the goal of universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, including family planning, it is imperative that in all engagements under the UNFPA Country Programme and the 2024-2025 joint work plans between UNFPA and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, there is a strong emphasis on the need to repeal restrictive legislation that criminalizes abortion and imposes punitive measures on individuals seeking or providing abortion services.
  • Educational Initiatives Introduce public awareness campaigns aimed at challenging norms perpetuating gender inequality. It is imperative to ensure that these campaigns reach minority areas and are linguistically inclusive, thereby facilitating broader dissemination and maximizing their transformative impact.
  • Monitoring and Accountability Maintain specialized monitoring to hold Iran accountable for violations of women’s rights, namely sexual and reproductive rights violations. Seek to hold individuals directly involved in violations responsible through targeted action across jurisdictions.

 

The undersigned organizations urge the Islamic Republic of Iran to:

  • Support Family Planning Reinstate comprehensive family planning programs providing contraception, prenatal and antenatal healthcare, and linguistically inclusive education to empower all women in making their own reproductive healthcare choices.
  • Repeal Restrictive Legislation Immediately revoke laws criminalizing abortion and ensure access to safe and legal abortion services and eliminate all punitive measures against healthcare providers and institutions.
  • Adhere to International Health Standards Commit to upholding international health standards and obligations, including the right to health as outlined in the ICESCR.
  • Combat Gender-Based Discrimination Take concrete steps to address systemic gender discrimination and promote gender equality across all societal domains.
  • Cooperate with the United Nations Engage with United Nations human rights mechanisms, granting unrestricted access to the country. This not only enables comprehensive monitoring and reporting on the prevailing situation but also serves to enhance accessibility to sexual and reproductive healthcare assistance while addressing ongoing challenges.

Iranian women are not alone in their struggle to attain access to safe sexual and reproductive healthcare. However, Iranian women face systemic discrimination alongside the barriers to sexual and reproductive healthcare, perpetuating their subordinate status in law and ultimately endangering their lives. Iran must implement recommendations, ensuring access to improved sexual and reproductive health for all citizens.

 

Signatories:

  • Abdorrahman Boroumand Center for Human Rights in Iran   
  • Association for the Human Rights of the Azerbaijani People in Iran   
  • Baloch Activists Campaign  
  • Centre Against Racism in Iran
  • Haalvsh
  • Human Rights Activists 
  • Human Rights Watch 
  • HYRCANI 
  • Kurdistan Human Rights Association – Geneva 
  • Kurdpa Human Rights Organization 
  • Miaan 
  • OutRight International 
  • Rasanak 
  • Siamak Pourzand Foundation 
  • Tuhra 
  • World Organisation Against Torture, OMCT

 

 

For more information please contact Skylar Thompson, Director of Global Advocacy and Accountability at Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA) skylar[at]hramail.com