Iran’s parliament has indefinitely delayed a vote on a bill on families, a move women’s rights activists said was a victory in their drive to block legislation they fear would encourage polygamy.

The conservative-controlled assembly had been due to vote on the government proposal known as the “Family Support Bill” last Sunday but it was sent back to its legal committee for more work, an Iranian newspaper reported this week.

Sussan Tahmasebi said she and other activists had lobbied against the measure, which they said would allow a man in the Islamic Republic to take a second wife without the agreement of his first wife. The bill also covered other family issues.

Women’s rights activists seek an end to polygamy and last month said in a statement the bill would reinforce women’s lack of legal rights in Iran.

She is involved in a campaign to collect one million signatures in support of improving women’s rights in Iran.

Campaigners say dozens of them have been detained since the drive began in 2006, in what Western diplomats see as part of a wider clampdown on dissent. Most were freed within days.

The activists say women in Iran face institutionalised discrimination that makes them second-class citizens in divorce, inheritance, child custody and other aspects of life.

Iran’s ruling clerics say Iranian women are protected from the sex symbol status they have in the West and that the country is implementing divine law.

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