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Ayatollah Challenges Parliament As It Mulls Equal ‘Blood Money’ For Women

Iran, Qom -- Grand Ayatollah Ja'far Sobhani, undated.

A Grand Ayatollah in Iran has chastised parliament for debating a law to equalize the amount of “blood money” paid to male and female victims or their heirs.

According to Islamic law, “diyah," or “blood money” is paid as financial compensation to the victims or their heirs in cases of murder, bodily harm, or property damage. The diyah for women is half the amount set for men. Under pressure from women's rights activists, parliament has been discussing legislation to equalize the two.

"Parliament has no right to debate the question of equating male and female diyah,” 85-year-old Qom-seminary-based Grand Ayatollah Ja'far Sobhani said March 7 in a religious ceremony in Qom.

The amount of diyah due to victims or their heirs is calculated on the bases of camel prices. Every year, the Islamic Republic’s judiciary sets the minimum amount of diyah according to the market price of 100 camels. The current amount is about 2.1 billion rials (roughly $55,000), the New York-based Center for Human Rights (CHRI) reported.

However, a recent drop in Iran’s camel population has increased the price of the animal, resulting in an increase in the diyah. To reduce the price, Iran has begun importing camels from Pakistan and Afghanistan, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported November 27, 2017.

A law urging insurance companies to pay out equal diyah to female victims or their heirs in the case of car accidents has already been passed by parliament and approved by the Guardians Council.

Spokesman for parliament’s Economic Committee Rahim Zare’ said at the time that “our justification for equality of blood money for men and women was based on the fact that some women are the heads of their households, therefore, if they die in traffic accidents, their families will face financial hardship.”

The debate on equalizing diyah for men and women in all other cases is still ongoing.