Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] said [press release] on Saturday that Iran should reverse new policies for this academic year that deny many students, particularly women, academic freedom. The policies, announced in a manual released by the country's Science and Technology Ministry [official website, in Persian] last month, limit the number of men or women that can be enrolled in certain academic fields, and altogether ban either men or women from some fields. Some of the fields from which women are banned at certain universities include computer science, various types of engineering sciences, political science, business administration, public administration and accounting. HRW referred to these restrictions as "Islamicization" policies and said they are the country's most recent effort to "stifle dissent." The policies will be implemented on Saturday, the first day of the academic year.
Iran has repeatedly been criticized for discriminatory practices and violations of human rights. In June, the European Union [official website] criticized [JURIST report] Iraq for discriminatory practices and for imprisoning a lawyer for his actions in opposition to the government's discriminatory policies. UN human rights experts also criticized Iraq in May for harsh sentences [JURIST report] it gave to lawyers who fight for human rights. A month earlier, US President Barack Obama [JURIST news archive] issued an executive order [JURIST report] sanctioning the use of technology to commit human rights abuses and indicated that Iran and Syria had both committed abuses using technology.