CHALLENGES IN CRIMINALISING MARITAL RAPE IN IRAN. 150 150 Affordable Capstone Projects Written from Scratch










Submitted To: Dr Arash Najmaei



Submitted By: Shiney Murnal

Student ID      : S00217075

Date                 : 3/6/2018


Abstract:  The aim of this research study is in two fold. I) To explore and critically analyze legal and socio cultural framework of Iran that contributes to increased risk of sexual violence on married woman II) Factors that hinders the Iran government from criminalizing the marital rape.  To analyze this, a qualitative case study research design has been proposed. A non-probabilistic sampling method will be used to select the samples. The data will be collected by conducting a semi structured interview with the marital rape victims and some intelligent participants of the field. The data will be further analyzed by using thematic qualitative analysis approach. The paper further includes the issues regarding gaining access to the organizations, ethical considerations and strength and limitations of the proposed study.


Table of Content






Statement of the Problem:   Marital rape has become one of the biggest realities in the world today that many women around the world have fallen prey for. It is the situation where sex is considered as heterosexual obligations within marriage between husband and wife and is not punishable even when it is forced on the partner (Heise LL, Moore K, Toubia N., 1996). This issue is prevalent especially in patriarchal societies such as Iran, Egypt, Kuwait and other Muslim countries where no strict legislation is available to prevent its occurrence.                                                                        According to Sharia law sex within a marriage is a sacred act and is elemental in marital relationship and it’s not wrong even when it is forced or without the consent of the wife (Hajjar Lisa, 2004).                                              Article 1108 of IPC states that men is the head of the family and  woman is obliged to obey her husband and satisfy should satisfy his sexual desire. “If the wife refuses to Tamkin [obey her husband] without a reasonable excuse, she loses her right to the Nafaqa [maintenance].” (Country policy and Information Note: Iran 2017).                                                                                                                                               Police and Judges are of little help and the victims who wish to report the case are required to provide wide range of evidences proving bodily assault. Most often the complaint is reluctantly set aside by the police authorities saying it’s a family issue and the government shouldn’t interfere between a husband and wife (Section 6 of US Department of States, Human Rights report of Iran, 2016).  There have been certain rape myths/ assumptions in the society about the rape crime and its victims such as: rape is an individual problem; equating rape with sex; rape attackers are usually strangers (Wehbi, 2000).  Due to this delusion marital rape in Iran has been sustained and justified throughout history. This issue has led to various negative implications on woman. The Victims usually go under a psychological trauma and health issues such as physical injury, pregnancy problems and death (Hajnasiri et. al , 2016).


Why Iran?


Iran is a country where the patriarchal dominations are embedded within the country’s legal and socio cultural systems. A systematic inequality between men and woman can be seen in public and private spheres.  Research on woman rights, gender inequality and sexuality is very sensitive topics in Iran and is prevented by many political and cultural barriers. The Iran government has always been vigilant about the cultural invasion by western thoughts and ideologies and thus there have been huge restrictions by the government to allow research in this area (Panahi, 2015). Due to lack of research and understanding about the issue in Iran, this research study has chosen Iran as a center of its study and tried to analyze the factors that contribute to marital rape in the light of its legal and socio cultural framework.

Aim of the study: Based on the above problem the main objective research of this research is to:       i) Explore and critically analyze the legal and socio cultural framework of Iran that contributes to the increased risk of sexual violence on woman by their partners. ii) Find out the factors that hinder the government from criminalizing the marital rape.

Objective of this paper:  The main objective of this paper is to propose an effective research design that a researcher can use to conduct the research.  To provide a careful selection of research methods and techniques that would result in an accurate research outcome and contribute in adding new information to the existing body of knowledge in the chosen research area.







Qualitative Method:


Qualitative method is one of best method for conducting research in criminology when the research is more exploratory in nature. The procedure and the techniques used under this method to collect and analyse data, provides rich and in-depth information about the topic. According to Edmondson and McManus (2007) a methodological fit is achieved when there is consistency between research design and state of theory. They provide a framework in which 3 levels of prior work [Nascent, Mature and Intermediate] correspond to 3 methodological approaches [Qualitative, quantitative and hybrid] that would result in a more compelling research conclusion.  The State of theory on marital rape is Nascent in nature as there is no much research conducted in Iran about this issue. Therefore an exploratory qualitative research method has been proposed for this research study.


Research Strategy: Case Study


A qualitative Case study Design involves in-depth understanding of the phenomena in the real life context. It enables the researcher to not only understand “what” and “how” but place more importance on “Why”.  Adopting a case study design in this paper enables the researcher to conduct intensive enquiry with the research participants to study the issue more deeply and comprehensively.




Research setting refers to the location where the data is collected. Location should be convenient to the participants where they feel comfortable to express themselves. In this research study, the interview will be conducted in a human resource department room of the hospital. The researcher should ensure that the room is safe and neutral that the respondent is not afraid of being overheard. Also the room should be quiet so that the interview is not interrupted by outside noises and where an audio recording quality is achieved.


Target Population:  The population targeted in this research proposal is married woman ranging from the age 18 to 50 visiting Tehran Public Hospital as a result of sexual violence by their partners. The main criteria included in this research are Married woman, and the couple is married for more than one year.  Considering the factors such as male dominance, gender inequality, lack of masculine power, and financial interdependence of woman on their husband, woman is more prone to risk than men. Thus less duality of sexual violence is expected in this research.

Sampling Technique:  For this research study a Non Probability or Non Random Sampling technique has been adopted. This technique is appropriate for a qualitative research design, where the research study is more explorative in nature as it provides the researcher with strong theoretical information about the extinct of the issue. The process of selecting a sample under this technique is based on subjective judgements that can be drawn from the available literature or the experience of the researcher. Among the various types of non probabilistic sampling methods, a typical case purposive sampling method has been adopted in this research proposal. Typical case purposive sampling is appropriate when the research wants to study the typicality of the research elements [Ex: people, events, contexts, and places].

Sample Size: Unlike Probabilistic sampling techniques the sample size under non-probabilistic sample techniques, is ambiguous. According to Malterud (2016) the credibility of the information in a qualitative design is primarily based on the analytical and data collection skills of the researcher than on the size of the sample. However according to Saunders (2016) sufficient number of interviews and observations has to be conducted until data saturation has been reached i.e. a new information or a new theme has been found. In this study, assuming that target population is heterogeneous, around 5 to 30 participants will be interviewed.




Primary Method:


  1. Semi Structured Interview:    


The data for this research study is collected by conducting a face to face semi structured interview with the selected sample. A Semi Structured interview is a combination of structured and unstructured questions that an interviewer uses depending on its purpose. This type of interview is more advantageous when the research study is explorative in nature and involves a qualitative analysis for example as part of Case study and Ground theory strategy (Saunders, 2016). In this paper, our interview Respondents/ Participants will be the rape victims who are open and willing to share their experiences. Also intelligent participants such as Nurses and doctors who constantly witness such cases will be interviewed to understand the extent of the issue. The interview will be audio recorded for for future reference.

Maximising Response rates:  In this research maximum response rates will be achieved by persuading the respondents of the significance of their contribution in combatting the issue. The participants will also encouraged by providing some incentives or gifts as gratitude for participating in the interview.

Additional Methods:


  1. b)  Observation:


In supplement to Interview, data is also collected by observing the elements of the research. In this paper an Internet mediated observation has also been adopted. Here the data is collected by observing the research elements through audio and visual qualitative data published by some online communities by way of emails, linked web pages, internet forums and social networks.


  1. Secondary/ Archival Data:  


A combination of secondary data along with primary data can enable the researcher to get an enlarged view on the topic. One of the benefits of using secondary data according to Barnes (2015) is that it enables enhanced ability to assess external validity such as by using cross cultural data. Due to the nature of the study, data from national and international source will be used in this paper to compare and contrast the extent of the issue in Iran. This gives an international perspective to the research topic. However evaluating the validity of the secondary data is very important in order to prevent invalid and false information. Saunders (2016) suggests a 3 stage process that a researcher should check to ensure the validity and reliability of archival data: Measurement Validity, Precise suitability and balance in costs and benefits.

In order to increase the validity of this research, reliable national news articles and reports from international research agencies such as international research agencies such as US State department country reports on human right practices Iran; WHO reports; Amnesty International will also be assessed in this research study.




A good quality research is assessed by reliability and validity of the data collected. Reliability refers to replication and consistency of research design. In this paper the internal reliability will be achieved by employing more than one researcher within the research study to conduct interviews, analysis and observations and to assess the extent of which the data and the analysis is matched. Unlike quantitative analysis replicability of findings is not possible in qualitative analysis. However the external reliability in this paper can be achieved if the research design, method and context adopted by the researcher are replicated by other researchers in the similar studies.

Validity refers to the appropriateness of the measures used, the accuracy of the findings and generalisability of the findings. In this paper, internal validity of the research will be achieved by getting maximum access to the participant’s knowledge by way of asking clarifying questions and exploring responses in various angles. However unlike the quantitative analysis the researcher cannot generalise his findings due to smaller sample size and difference in research settings. The researcher can also adopt other techniques of validation to verify the research data such as Triangulation [use of more than one source of data and method of collection].









Moderators Guide


Moderators Guide is the interview outline or the protocol used to guide the interview.  It is a step by step procedure of an interview schedule that helps an interviewer/ moderator to be on track. Moderator guide should consist of research objectives, brief respondent profile, date and place of interview, Introduction, topics, questions and activities and close. An appropriate model for moderators guide proposed by Clarke et al. (2002) is followed in this paper.


Approach of asking Questions:

The interview schedule will include a set of open ended questions. The questions should be arranged in a logical order so that the flow in the conversation remains. Following should be the approach:

  • General questions  before Specific questions
  • Behavior before Attitude questions
  • Positive before Negative questions
  • Unaided before Aided questions
  • Respondent categories before the Interviewers categories


An interview protocol should include at least 8 to 10 questions. The interviewer should also use Probs [Follow up or Sub questions] and Prompts [Asking for more clarification or elaboration on the topic] to get more clarity on the topic.


Timing: An estimate time allotted for every interview under this research study is 75 Minutes. The Interviewer should make sure that he covers all the important topics within the scheduled time. The interviewer is also required to give a break once in 20 min to maintain the concentration of the respondent.





















Moderator’s Guide / Interview Schedule














 For the sake of this study, a qualitative thematic analysis method has been used. This method consists of flexible and systematic approach of analyzing qualitative data. The steps involved under this method are:

  • Integration:  The data is initially integrated from various sources [interviews, observations, documents, websites] being analyzed.
  • Coding: Classifying the data in different codes
  • Identifying: Identifying the key themes and patterns by using codes.
  • Interpretation: Interpreting and developing new theories based on the thematic patterns.
  • Draw and verify conclusion



Feasibility refers to the practicability of the research study; whether the researcher is able to gain sufficient access to the organisation to fulfil his research objective, whether the researcher is able to complete his study in the expected time frame (Saunders, 2016) . The research study that is intended in this paper is feasible provided if the researcher is successful in negotiating his access to the organisation which he can do by adopting various strategies such as:

  • Ensuring Familiarity with the organisation
  • Explaining the clear purpose of the study and the type of access required: the researcher should be able to persuade the manager about the concerns of the issue and how the research can bear impact on the issue
  • Establish credibility and being sensitive about the organisations goodwill: Assure the organisations about the confidentiality and anonymity of the individual participants.


The researcher has to ensure that his research design and the data collection strategy are ethical. That is the researcher should ensure that the conduct of the research should not pose any harm to the participants. The possible harm that the participants may face in this research study can be in the form of embarrassment, pain, discomfort, conflict, mental stress and other material disadvantage. This harm is mitigated by maintaining confidentiality of the respondent’s identity, getting informed consent from the respondent about the research objective and its implications and by not forcing the respondent to answer the question which causes stress and anxiety to the respondent.


The knowledge generated in this research is useful to guide the Iran government and the legal authorities to notice the loop holes in its legislative framework and take measures that provide protection and confidence to its female inhabitants. This study will also encourage other researchers to conduct more research in this field come up with new solutions and remedies in combatting the issue.







  • The data will be collected from the intelligent participants and actual victims of sexual violence which gives clear idea of the extent of the situation.
  • The secondary data used in the proposed study is highly reliable as it will be acquired from the reports published by international research agencies such as US State department country reports on human right practices Iran, WHO reports, Amnesty International etc.



  • The proposed study focuses only on married woman victims and does not include men in the frame.
  • Sensitivity of the topic: In Iran studying rape cases, participating court sessions and acquiring relevant data is very difficult because investigation of these cases is considered private and held under closed sessions.
  • Inaccurate Data: The respondents can sometimes provide inaccurate data either deliberately or not deliberately which can affect the research outcome.
  • Expensive and Time constraints: The researcher should sometimes wait long to gain an access to the organisation; unavailability of the respondents; and time frame allowed for the study can also negatively affect the research outcome.


















  1. Barnes, C. M., Dang, C. T., Leavitt, K., Guarana, C. L., & Uhlmann, E. L., 2015. Archival data in micro-organizational research: A toolkit for moving to a broader set of topics. Journal of Management.


  1. Clarke, A, Ellis, M.J. &  Sleney, J. (2002), Attitudes to date rape and relationship rape: a qualitative study, Department of sociology and SSMR, University of Surrey


  1. Country Policy and Information Note Iran: Women fearing domestic violence, July 2017, Version 1…/Iran_-_Women_fearing_DV_July_2017.pdf


  1. Edmondson, A. C., & McManus, S. E. (2007). Methodological fit in management field research. Academy of Management Review, 32(4), 1155–1179.


  1. Heise LL, Moore K, Toubia N., 1996 , Page 12-14, “ Defining “coercion” and “consent” cross-culturally” ,Copyright © 1996, Sex Information And Education Council

Retrieved from Google Scholar[]=citjournalarticle_189195_20


  1. Hajjar Lisa, 2004, “Religion, State Power, and Domestic Violence in Muslim Societies: A Framework for Comparative Analysis”  Law & Social Inquiry; Chicago Vol. 29

Retrieved from



  1. Hajnasiri H, Reza Ghanei Gheshlagh,Kourosh Sayehmiri, Farnoosh Moafi,  and Mohammad Farajzadeh,2016 , Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal [IRCMJ] on‘Domestic Violence Among Iranian Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.’


  1. Malterud, K., Siersma, V. D., & Dorrit Guassora, A. (2016). Sample size in qualitative interview studies: Guided by information power. Qualitative Health Research, 26(13), 1753–1760.


  1. Panahi A, (2015) Cultural invasion and moral insecurity in thoughts of Imam Khamenei. Cumhuriyet Science Journal, 36(3), 3449-3457.




  1. Saunders, M., Lewis, P., & Thornbill, A. (2016). Research Methods for Business Students. Pearson, 7thedn, England.


  1. US State Department, ‘Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016- Iran’, Sec 6


  1. Wehbi Samantha, 2000  “Rape perceptions and the impact of social relations: Insights from women in Beirut”  School of Social Work McGill University, Montreal

Retrieved from