chapter  4
Sanction and sanctuary: the judicial system in Iran and its role in relation to domestic violence against women
Pages 33

Introduction The judiciary, a formal mech an ism of conflict res olu tion, plays a major role in defining viol ence against women and designing various devices to tackle it. Certain questions arise: How does the sys tem view the prob lem? What are the as sump tions of the judiciary? On the basis of these as sump tions, how do women and men formulate, conceptualise and resolve their disputes? Whose voices are repres ented, and using what discursive strat egies? And to what extent can they influence the legal outcomes? How does the legal sys tem use the resources and discourses of the com mun ity to make sense of and resolve disputes and violent confrontation along the gender divide? These questions will be addressed by analysing the accounts of eight men and women involved in the judiciary. On the basis of their social and polit ical backgrounds and current positions, the parti cip ants are divided into two groups: judges (who are directly involved in decision­ making in the Iranian judiciary) and non­ judges (those who are indi­ rectly engaged with the judiciary: lawyers, consultants and university lecturers). They are also clas si fied according to gender. Although the parti cip ants had dif­ ferent per spect ives on do mestic viol ence and the role of the judiciary, a kind of consensus emerged, in which the burden of peace and serenity in the family rests on women through the wholehearted em brace of men’s right of control over

women’s affairs, and women’s submission to this power. The question arises as to whether this control can be exercised through viol ence. On this point there were some dif fer ences within the parti cip ants’ accounts, which will be discussed at length in the fol low ing sections. In this chapter, I will start by discussing the structure of the judiciary, includ­ ing the definitions related to the laws of the land and their sources, the pro cess of law-making and the pro ced ures designed to resolve conflicts within marital rela­ tionships. This will be followed by ana lyses of the inter views with the judges and the accounts of other parti cip ants (lawyers, consultants and lecturers).