Iran is Wrong to Deny Fishing Licenses to Women on Hengam Island, Official Says

The Iran Fisheries Organization’s refusal to issue licenses to the fisherwomen of Hengam Island in the Persian Gulf is illegal, the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) has reported, citing Dr. Ali Akbar Gorji, an expert in public and constitutional law at President Hassan Rouhani’s communications headquarters.

“The government must eradicate all discriminatory practices and provide equal and fair economic opportunities for all citizens in line with Articles 3 (Clause 9), 20, 21, 28 and 43 of the Constitution,” Dr. Gorji said in a letter to Dr. Hassan Salehi, the director of the Iran Fisheries Organization. “The government must also do its utmost to promote and protect women’s moral, legal, and economic rights.”

Dr. Gorji added: “The government must create job opportunities and ensure economic equality for women as stated in the Charter on Citizens Rights and according to Articles 77, 78 and 83 of the Constitution. The country’s labor laws and articles of the Supreme Cultural Council of the Islamic Revolution guarantee the right of all women to work after reaching legal age.”

Dr. Gorji noted: “Many women in Hengam Island are their families’ breadwinners. Given that fishing is a major source of income for most households on the Island, it is imperative that fisherwomen work to support their families. The government must pay special attention to women workers in the region. We urge the Iran Fisheries Organization to issue licenses to fisherwomen of Hengam Island whose right to work is guaranteed by labor laws and the Constitution.” 

Various Iranian media outlets have reported on the plight of fisherwomen on Hengam Island.

“They tell us that fishing is not for women when we file for a license,” a fisherwoman told the monthly magazine Andisheh Pooya. “We do not receive fuel subsidies or financial help to repair our boats. Why shouldn’t women fish for a living? We have been fishing for years. Women run the economy on this island.”

According to Andisheh Pooya, many fisherwomen have tried and failed to get their licenses from Fisheries Department’s offices in other locations including Bandar Abbas. Without a license, a fisherwoman cannot secure a loan to repair her boat. The fisherwomen on Hengam Island have no work insurance, nor do they receive fuel subsidies for their boats.  

Hengam is a small island with a total area of 50 square kilometers just south of Qeshm Island in the Persian Gulf.

[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]