Iran Women to Get Equal "Blood Money" in Car Crashes

May 27, 2008

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iranian women who suffer injury or death in a car accident will be entitled to the same insurance company compensation as men under legislation passed by parliament, the judiciary said on Tuesday.

Rights activists say women face discrimination in the Islamic state. For example, compensation for the loss of a woman's life, "blood money", is half that paid for a man under Iran's Sharia law imposed since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

This rule, which applies to physical injury as well, has also governed payments from insurance companies even though both sexes pay equal premiums.

But judiciary spokesman Alireza Jamshidi said the legislature had recently voted in favour of a proposed change, even though it must also be approved by a powerful constitutional watchdog controlled by conservative clerics.

"Henceforth the payment of blood money and damage compensation will be equal in regard to women and men," Jamshidi told a weekly news conference.

He made clear the new law would only apply to insurance claims for people involved in traffic accidents and not to compensation in other areas, for example in murder cases.

Since a person's agreement with an insurance company has "contractual basis and both sexes pay equal premiums, the compensation should also be equal and the law is not in contravention of the Sharia", Jamshidi said.

Women are legally entitled to hold most jobs, but the Islamic state remains dominated by men.

Iranian women's rights activists say they also face institutionalised discrimination in other areas of life, including divorce, inheritance and child custody.

Iranian officials reject allegations of discrimination against women. Clerics say women in Iran are protected from the sex-symbol status they have in the West and insist the Islamic Republic is implementing God's divine law.

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