The case of Shinabad burn victims is beginning to capture the attention of women’s rights and human rights activists. In December of 2012 in the Kurdish-populated region of Piranshahr an oil heater caught fire in a classroom at Shinabad school. Instead of evacuating the children, the school officials attempted to remove the heater, blocking the exit ways and preventing the children from escaping the fire. Though school fires are not unique to Iran, Iran’s legal system is distinctive in its treatment of female burn victims, providing them with lesser rights than their male counterparts.
Not tolerating additional “insult to injury,” survivors of the Shinabad fire have been challenging the legal system and insurance companies to obtain their fully deserved compensation for their pain and suffering. Inspired by Islamic Sharia law, Iran’s legal system exercises institutional discrimination by treating women with lesser rights and granting them only 50% of compensation that could be given to their male counterparts.
After nearly two years of struggle for equal rights, the survivors of this fire along with their families and legal representatives have attained a landmark “promise” for full reparations. Iran’s special assistant to the president, Mr. Mohammad Bagher Nobakht, on behalf of the government announced that the government will commit to the compensation for the Shinabad survivors.
While the compensation of family members remains in question, the commitment to full “diyeh” for the female victims of the fire is a step in the right direction.