Framing Rights: Women and Family Law in Pre- and Post- Revolutionary Iran

Arzoo Osanloo


This article explores changes to Iran’s family law codes before and after the 1979
revolution. Since the revolution, the state’s attention to women’s legal status has served to
reinforce specific and often competing views on women’s roles in the post-revolutionary
Islamic Republic of Iran. By exploring how those views changed during different periods over
the past thirty-five years, this article highlights contemporary debates about women’s roles
and offers a deeper understanding of the sometimes conflicting aims of legal reforms. An
investigation into changing family laws and the state’s emphasis on women’s roles also
permits deeper understanding of the persistent debates about Islam, the republic, and how,
for the conservative religious leadership, women serve the wider project of delivering a
utopian Islamic society. 

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