Traditionally, the family and the tribe were supplemented by Islamic waqf (obligatory charity) institutions for the care of the infirm and the indigent. Iran's monarchical system was slow to awaken to the responsibility of the state in this respect. Social welfare programs include workers' compensation, disability benefits, maternity allowances, retirement benefits, death benefits, and family and marriage allowances. These programs cover only employed persons in specific occupations and geographical areas. There were also special pension systems in force for public employees. Old-age benefits were a percentage of average earnings multiplied by the number of years of contributions. Survivor benefits are 50% of the descendant's pension.
The human rights abuses that characterized the shah's regime were, if anything, intensified after his overthrow. The government rejected the principle of the universality of human rights, and argued that Islamic rather than Western precepts should be used in determining the rights of citizens. The revolutionary government was accused of conducting arbitrary arrests and summary trials, of using torture in interrogating political prisoners, and of persecuting such religious minorities as Baha'is and Jews.
The imposition of Islamic fundamentalism brought with it censorship of all media and a revocation, in large part, of the emancipation of women achieved during the previous regime. Women face legal and informal discrimination. Wearing of the chador, the traditional cloak, was reimposed and vigorously enforced, together with gender separation in public places. Family and property laws favor men, women's testimony in court is worth half that of men. Muslim men may marry non-Muslim women, but Muslim woman are not free to marry non-Muslim men. Women must receive the permission of their father or husband to obtain a passport. Domestic abuse and violence against women is not publicly discussed, and rape is a widespread problem.
The Jewish, Christian, and Baha'i minorities face government discrimination in areas including education, employment, public accommodations. They also suffer harassment and abuse.
Serious human rights abuses persist including summary execution, disappearance, torture, rape, stoning, flogging, arbitrary arrest and detention, and harsh prison conditions. In spite of the installation of more moderate leaders since the death of Ayatollah Khomeini, the Iranian government continues to restrict freedoms of speech, assembly, religion, association, and the press.