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Women in Iran could be turned into baby-making machines

Billboard put up by Tehran Municipality in 2013 promoting large families
Billboard inTehran promoting large families. Banner reads 'Spring will not arrive with one flower', where flowers are children © IRNA

Iran has promoted sexual education and choice in recent years – but that could be about to change.

Discriminatory laws to encourage women to breed

There are two Bills making their way through Iran’s parliament at present. If they become law, every woman and girl in Iran faces serious repercussions on her everyday life. She will be denied choice and autonomy over her own body, and valued primarily for her womb.

The Bills infringe on a woman’s right to equality and privacy, as well as numerous rights to reproductive health.

The Comprehensive Population and Exaltation of Family Bill (Bill 315)

If Bill 315 becomes law, women and girls will be:

  • Denied equal rights in employment, divorce and family relations
  • Not protected from domestic abuse or violence in any form
  • Favoured if they reconcile with their abusers
  • Constrained in their aspirations according to gender stereotypes defined by the state.

Limiting access to sex education and contraception

The Bill to Increase Fertility Rates and Prevent Population Decline (Bill 446)

If Bill 446 becomes law, women and girls will be:

  • Denied access to modern contraception
  • Denied sex education if they don’t pay for access to extra information
  • Stopped from learning how to protect their physical and mental health when it comes to sexual and familial relationships
  • Obliged to carry unsafe or unwanted pregnancies to term
  • Forced to seek dangerous and illegal abortions in secret. 

What will change?

Between 1993 and 2012 people in Iran were provided with access to sexual and reproductive health services and information through the Family and Population Planning Programme.

It ensured free condoms and other affordable contraception was available. There were clinics in cities and rural health houses, staffed by community health workers. Universities made family planning courses compulsory for undergraduates and it was included in adult literacy programmes.

Then, three years ago, the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution adopted a binding resolution calling for its abolition and funding for this programme has now been completely eliminated.

Our campaign to stop the Bills

Over 14,000 of you emailed the Iranian authorities through our website in April and May 2015. So far, the Bills have not progressed but we are keeping a close eye on developments.

The full story

For details of the Bills and our research on the issue, download the report below.

Report - You shall procreate: Attacks on women's sexual and reproductive rights in Iran