December 14, 2022 | Flash Brief

UN Votes to Remove Iran From Women’s Rights Commission

December 14, 2022 | Flash Brief

UN Votes to Remove Iran From Women’s Rights Commission

Latest Developments

The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) decided today by a vote of 29-8, with 16 abstentions, to remove Iran from the UN Commission on the Status of Women. The decision reflects women’s second-class status across the Islamic Republic. The rights of women have taken center stage in the protests now consuming Iran: The regime’s killing of 23-year-old Mahsa Amini, whom security forces had arrested for allegedly violating Tehran’s hijab laws, triggered the demonstrations now nearing their fourth month with no end in sight.

Expert Analysis

“The vote at the United Nations today is a test not only of the commission but of the UN itself and of the countries that purport to uphold the very principles of women’s empowerment. What the women of Iran have shown with such courage and determination is that regardless of any vote, the regime does not represent them as women or as Iranian citizens. They have called for the ouster of their regime not merely because of its treatment of women but because the abhorrent conduct reflected in the Islamic Republic’s long rap sheet on human rights is not what they aspire to for their future.” –  Toby Dershowitz, Senior Vice President for Government Relations and Strategy

The Hijab Law

Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Tehran has required all women to wear a hijab in public. Violators of the law face lengthy jail sentences and even torture. This policy has elicited protests in Iran even prior to the current round of demonstrations. In late 2017 and early 2018, for example, an Iranian woman became the public face of protests after she removed her hijab in public and waved it on a stick.

Women’s Second-Class Status

Women in the Islamic Republic face a range of other discriminatory laws. For example, in court, a woman’s testimony has half the value of a man’s. The law consistently favors men in marriage, divorce, inheritance, and child custody. A married woman may not leave the country without her husband’s permission. Tehran routinely bars women from entering stadiums to watch soccer matches, Iran’s most popular sport. Tehran also restricts women from running for president and other higher offices.

Sexual Violence

Women face sexual violence in Iranian prisons. CNN has documented multiple cases of sexual assault against female dissidents since the current protests began. In one incident, CNN reported, 20-year-old dissident Armita Abbasi “was rushed to the Imam Ali hospital in Karaj, accompanied by plainclothes officers, according to leaks from that hospital. Her head had been shaved and she was shaking violently. In the accounts, the medical staff attending to her spoke of the horror they felt when they saw evidence of brutal rape.” One medical staffer recounted that the officers “said she was hemorrhaging from her rectum… due to repeated rape. The plainclothes men insisted that the doctor write it as rape prior to arrest.”

Related Analysis

Iran Surpasses 500 Executions in 2022,” FDD Flash Brief

Maximum Support for the Iranian People: A New Strategy,” by Saeed Ghasseminejad, Richard Goldberg, Tzvi Kahn, and Behnam Ben Taleblu


International Organizations Iran Iran Human Rights