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Special committee against wife beating

Sept 17, 2000, Teheran (dpa) - Iran is setting up a special committee to combat physical abuse of women, especially in the home by husbands, the students' news agency ISNA reported Sunday.

``This committee is compromised of representatives of the interior and education ministries, the police and the coroner's office and aimed at avoiding abuse of women, especially violence at home by husbands against their wives,'' said Zahra Shojaie, the presidential advisor on women's affairs.

The committee will also establish a hotline that women can call for urgent help if abused by their husbands, the official said.

``There are no statistics about physical abuse of women at home but it rooted in the wrong cultural approach of men towards women,'' she said.

The Islamic laws in Iran are strongly male-oriented, giving men almost unlimited control over their spouses. Men can divorce their wives and take custody of the children, while women are deprived of this legal option except in special, limited cases determined by the family court.

Although women are commonly subject to physical abuse at the hands of their husbands, they seldom report instances to the police.

The courts and the police generally encourage abused women to settle the matter domestically with their husbands.

Apart from cultural programmes aimed at improving the condition of women, feminists and politicians are working to change their legal rights.


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