December 15, 2022


President Leah Marrone spoke to Lawyers Weekly about human rights demonstrations in Iran:



Iran’s government is seeing the largest uprising in three years from its people, as widespread protests and media publicity has cast light on the country’s strictly enforced hijab laws, following the death of Mahsa Amini, who was killed by morality police for showing her hair in public.

Australian Women Lawyers president Leah Marrone has spoken up about the inhumane laws and human rights abuses facing women in Iran and drew similarities to religious laws in Western countries that are taking rights from women.

The laws adding to the oppression of women in Iran include but are not limited to:

  • Nine is the legal age of marriage for girls (lowered from 13 in 1982);
  • A daughter can inherit half of what a son does when dividing family wills;
  • A married woman cannot leave the country without her husband’s permission;
  • A woman needs a male guardian’s consent to marry;
  • Women can only get a divorce in court;
  • Violators of the compulsory hijab law face punishment of up to two months in prison and 74 lashes;
  • A Muslim woman can only marry a Muslim man — men are not confined by this law;
  • Compensation for the death of a woman is half of that of a man.

“The people of Iran are standing up against so many bad laws and human rights abuses,” said Ms Marrone.

“As a long-time refugee advocate, and someone who has volunteered with refugee communities in Australia, I am acutely aware of the terrible oppression faced by many women and minority groups in Iran,” she said.

“I, like so many around the world, was completely devastated to hear of yet another death of a woman at the hands of the regime.”

The protests have been characterised by females burning hijabs and cutting off their hair, with crowds chanting “zan, zendegi, azadi” or “woman, life, freedom”.

The protests have seen security forces fire live rounds at protestors, and an unreported estimate of 1,500 protestors are said to have been killed since the death of Mahsa Amini.

The people of Iran face further rights violations, with the Islamic Republic cutting the internet for civilians in order to suppress protests and silence news.

Solidarity protests have been held in major cities around the world, including in NSW and Melbourne.

“I stand strongly in solidarity with them and with people all over the world who are fighting for the most basic rights,” said Ms Marrone.

“Lawmakers around the world have hidden behind the guise of what they say is religion to promulgate misogynistic and hateful policies which harm women.

“I have stood strongly in solidarity with women protesting in the USA this year who, in many states, saw their rights to bodily autonomy disintegrate overnight with the overturning of Roe v Wade.

“It is not for them to force their interpretation of religion on others, but a choice that is deeply personal.”

A pertinent question was raised by Iranian journalist and activist Alinejad Masih: “How come the Islamic Republic [has] a seat at the United Nations, in a top body monitoring human rights and women’s rights globally?”