Iran plans to introduce major restrictions on the availability of birth control methods in a bid to stop rapid population decline.
The government is currently considering two related bills intended to aid an increase in the birth rate.
One proposed law, bill 446, would curb women's use of modern contraceptives, outlaw voluntary sterilization [including vasectomies], ban the provision of information on contraceptive methods and dismantle state-funded family planning programs.
Another, bill 315, would mandate that organizations prioritize married men and women with children when hiring for specific jobs.
International observers have decried the proposed reforms. Amnesty International warned that the bill could have "devastating consequences" for single women or women in abusive relationships. A spokeswoman for the Middle East and north Africa said:
“The authorities are promoting a dangerous culture in which women are stripped of key rights and viewed as baby-making machines rather than human beings with fundamental rights to make choices about their own bodies and lives..
“The bills reinforce discriminatory stereotypes of women and mark an unprecedented move by the state to interfere in people’s personal lives. In their zealous quest to project an image of military might and geopolitical strength by attempting to increase birth rates, Iran’s authorities are trampling all over the fundamental rights of women – even the marital bed is not out of bounds.”
But many Iranian politicians believe the legislative changes are vital to address a serious demographic crisis.
In October 2014, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged Iranians to help increase the country's population, which he described as aging. "If we move forward like this, we will be a country of elderly people in a not too distant future," Khamenei said (according to the semi-official Fars news agency). "Why do some [couples] prefer to have one … or two children? Why do men or women avoid having children through different means?" the Iranian leader wondered.
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