Iranian campaigners debate gender ruling

Graphic from Twitter video on equality ruling Image copyright Niloufar Hamedi
Image caption The policy on equality between men and women is in the spotlight

Iran's mainstream media have applauded a recent Supreme Court ruling on equal compensation for men and women in cases such as death or bodily harm. But this ostensibly radical ruling has not impressed everyone in Iran.

State-run IRINN TV was profuse in its coverage of the new ruling which introduces "uniform practice" and removes the ambiguities of a 2013 law that has been interpreted differently by different courts.

The basis for the ruling is the complex and often controversial Islamic law known as Deyah (or blood money) which awards damages for injury or death in accidents and other circumstances. In murder cases, the family of the murderer pays Deyah to the victim's family.

The amount given to male victims is twice as much as female victims in compliance with Sharia law as practised in the Shia Muslim country.

"All courts are now bound to respect the equality of men and women in Islamic restitution," Massoumeh Ebtekar, the vice-president for women and family affairs, tweeted in praise of the decision.

Sections of the media, including the Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) media, have described it as the final step in ending gender inequality in this area.

Seeking 'genuine equality'

Campaigns against inequality in Deyah have increased over the years as Iranian women have become more vocal about their rights.

When a fire killed two girls and injured 30 at a primary school in Shinabad village in 2012, not only were the girls and their families entitled to only half of what school boys would have received but they also spent years chasing the compensation promised by the government.

"Imagine how different it could have been for the Shinabadi girls" if the ruling had been in place then, Twitter user @amindlv wondered.

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Campaigners want the ruling to cover all aspects of the law relating to gender equality. Activist and journalist, Niloufar Hamedi, likened the ruling to "hush money being paid to keep women from demanding genuine equality". She was speaking in a video published on Twitter and on the website of reformist newspaper, Etemad.

There is also some discontent on social media about taxpayers footing the bill. "If for example a woman is murdered, the murderer still pays half of a man's restitution money and the other half is paid out of the pocket of the rest of the nation," prominent Iranian journalist Saba Azarpeik tweeted.

Interestingly, this legal development was kept under wraps for six weeks. It was reported in state media on 2 July and commented on by President Hassan Rouhani the following day. But the ruling had been made on 21 May.

Reporting by Nel Hodge and Arash Momenianesfahani

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