NCRI WOMEN'S COMMITTEE

Works extensively with Iranian women outside the country and maintains a permanent contact with women inside Iran. The Women’s Committee is actively involved with many women's rights organizations and NGO's and the Iranian diaspora. The committee is a major source of much of the information received from inside Iran with regards to women. Attending UN Human Rights Commission meetings and other international or regional conferences on women’s issues, and engaging in a relentless battle against the Iranian regime's misogyny are part of the activities of members and associates of the committee.

Her writing from prison on the plight of women who are forced into prostitution

October 25, marks the anniversary of Reyhaneh Jabbari's unjust execution. A young woman who bravely defended herself against rape,

but was condemned to death by the judiciary of the mullahs' misogynous regime.

She stands as a symbol of Iranian girls and women who refuse to acquiesce to subjugation and prefer to put their lives on line and stand up for their rights and principles.

In her memory, here is one of her own writings from prison, a revealing piece that sheds light on the plight of Iranian women and public in general, under the rule of the mullahs' religious tyranny.

*             *             *

I am Reyhaneh Jabbari and I am 26.

I admit that I no longer care to live this kind of life. It seems to me that life is not just breathing and passing the days and nights. Such repetition and anticipation is badly hurting my soul. Today, my body and soul, are both wounded and blood-drenched. I have the feeling of a soldier in the battle field. Soldiers use all their might to carry out their operation in their fight with the enemy. They use all their energy to somehow pound the enemy. Their mind is active and they do not think of those who are waiting for them at home.

However, they get frustrated if there is no operation for a long time. The lull and anticipation are very destructive and eat you from within like termites. All long wars are doomed to end because they wear out the spirit of soldiers on both sides and have no winners. Nevertheless, on both sides, the rulers claim victory and describe the other side as loser and coward. But the nations know how harmful such endless, eroding wars have been. Only the cemeteries become prosperous as they are filled with bodies of young men. The houses are ruined and the ceilings crumble.

 

I am Reyhaneh Jabbari and I am 26.  

I am tired of this eroding war of anticipating freedom. The war between me and survivors of Sarbandi,[1] whom I no longer hate because he is so petty that he does not deserve to be hated by me. I should not relieve him of the weight and depth of his transient pleasures. Today, so many years after that incident, I have learned that the life of any human being is far beyond what it seems. Sarbandi, however, had not learned this lesson from life despite his age, otherwise he would have known that it was not his right to impose his desire on me. He would have known that he can't deceive me or impose himself on me by force.

I have spent days and nights thinking why that incident happened? Why did Sarbani become greedy about my life and body? How did that big, strong man fall down? The answer I got was that our motives pulled the two opposing ends of the rope of destiny. On one side was him, with his motivation of seeking pleasure and using force. On the other side was me, motivated by wanting to escape from his coercion. This was my discovery after I spoke with some women in jail. (What a discovery that several judges were not able to make!!)

 

I am Reyhaneh Jabbari and I am 26.

For the first time I sat down and spoke with a prostitute in 2008, when I was hardly 20 years old. I was forced to watch the tears of a woman who had been imprisoned on the charge of establishing a brothel. I had hatefully watched her for months. I hated the fact that she trapped young girls. Her yelling and the foul language she used disgusted me. I disliked the way she walked, the way she ate, sat and even slept. Whenever I ran into her in the corridor or in the yard, I tried not to look at her. I thought she was a dirty, despicable animal. Her pseudonym was Mina. M. Even in prison, she preyed on young girls. She knew she would be free after a while and she would go back to the same job. Although I hated her so much, but circumstances compelled me to sit down and listen to her.

 

I am Reyhaneh Jabbari and I am 26.

Now I know that no human being is born corrupt. The corruption and mischief in human beings and society are caused by the environment and also because people give in to circumstances. Mina went to school simultaneous with the (1979) Revolution. Her father left her, her two sisters, two brothers and mother and went to Bandar Abbas (southern Iranian port) in pursuit of a job. Before that, he had temporary and seasonal jobs like shoveling the snow or street peddling, but he could not earn enough to feed his family. In 1979, someone accepted to give him a job in Bandar Abbas. When Mina came back from school, her father was gone. For a few months, her mother tried to feed them. She even stole food from small shops in the hope that her father who now had a job would send them some money. But her father never returned. Exactly one year after, her mother frustrated in struggling to provide for their expenses, did not let the 8-year-old Mina continue her school. Mina stayed home and saw her mother leave home at certain hours. Shortly afterwards, her older sister also left home along with her mother near dusk. A few years later, she understood the meaning of leaving home at dusk in her own life.

 

I am Reyhaneh Jabbari and I am 26.

Now I know that the environmental conditions and family can have an impact on the destiny and future of human beings, regardless of their talents, capabilities and intelligence. In my dialogue with Mina, I learned that anyone with any talent and character, if situated in such conditions would become another Mina. No one can escape such a doomed destiny. There is only one way to break out of this repetitive cycle of prostitution and that is to think deeply in the hours that one is selling off her body and understand that she is a slave. And if she decides to refuse being a slave, then a window will open for her to escape. Mina told me about all the details of her job... She told me that a prostitute gets worn out very quickly and when she dries up, she is thrown aside like a disgusting garbage. Ultimately, she is either killed by someone or she commits suicide. There are not many prostitutes who die of natural death or have a long life.

Mina told me that her mother drained her and her two sisters' energy to the last day of her life to make her two sons live comfortably. Her poisonous, hateful words showed how much she was hurt by discrimination against her compared to her brothers. She hated her brothers. She hated even her only son who was the product of a rape and expected his mother to pay for him even when she was in jail. He is only 17 years younger than his mother. Mina told me that the first time her mother sold her, she had wept and begged to let her go. She said how her mother and sisters' pimp beat her up and left her with a middle-aged man to be raped at the age of 12 to pay some money to her destitute family.

Mina told me that for some time, she wept every time she had to sleep with a man. She said she shivered and cursed her parents and wished to die a thousand times. She told me that she got used to the situation after a while and learned the special tricks of her detested and dangerous job, to prey on other girls and force them into slavery. And I learned that many victims turn into hunters when they lose hope of relief from sexual exploitation, and they prey on new victims to enter them into this corrupt cycle.

One of the victims was Mahsa, who had been raped by her brother at the age of 11. Her brother was addicted to CRACK and when he went into hallucination, he did not hear Mahsa begging her to leave her alone. Mahsa was raped time and again until she was 16. She had attempted several times to commit suicide. Even in prison, she attempted a few times. Once I saw with my own eyes that she attempted to cut her jugular vein with broken glass in front of others, but some kind inmates were very quick and prevented her death. Although her life is more bitter than death.

Niyousha was another young woman who had become homeless after her parents had a divorce. None of them wanted her, so she went to her grandmother's house where she was often battered and humiliated. They did not want her. Until she was 15, she was repeatedly raped by her uncle. Then she got obsessed with the thought of escaping. That sacred and humane decision to escape is the effort to refuse being a slave. She escaped to a friend's house. Then a man by the name of Ali paid for her to go to a hairdressing class. Everything was fine and Niyousha was so sure that her future is guaranteed. Then she met a girl called Tina who destroyed her dreams. The first step for runaway girls is consuming drugs. Ali abandoned her and the 16-year-old Niyousha was left alone, all by herself. Addicted and poor. Even the best philosophers and scientists or even prophets cannot change the destiny of a girl that is caught up in such circumstances. Then she went to the public toilet of the City Park where she spent her nights and days.... To escape starvation and to pay for her drugs, she received drugs from Tina and others and gave them to clients. Obviously, she ended up getting arrested and jailed.

 

I am Reyhaneh Jabbari and I am 26.

And I am still wondering that when humiliated and insulted girls are sexually exploited, and when they do not want to be slaves, who is there for them to take refuge with? Is there a government or ordinary citizen or any responsible person to give support to such girls?

Once again I remember Soheila Ghadiri who lived in similar conditions. Thirteen years on the streets without any ceiling over her head, homeless and battered. People repel such a girl and do not recognize her right to life. And when she gets pregnant in one of these rapes, there are only two options for her. Either to have an abortion by unsanitary and dangerous methods, or to love her kid (as poor Soheila did) and give birth to her child in a distant, isolated corner amidst rubbles (away from the eyes of people who pretend to be honorable but are very deceptive), with great pain and suffering, massive and successive bleeding, without any medicine or hot food, to find out that she has no place in this world to give love to her kid.

So, she kills her baby. And immediately afterwards, all the NGOs and organizations and people who were non-existent until then to give a helping hand, all of a sudden appear and curse, beat and repel the desperate woman. Then they tighten the noose around this homeless woman’s neck and get busy writing a report to brag about what they have done. Unaware of what goes on in the depth of society, reporters quickly write down their notes and pretend to know sociology without knowing the society. Then they stick their heads in their translation books and endorse each other. All of them are happy about having cleaned the society from such pervert women. Without thinking for a moment about the cause of transformation of a beautiful little girl into a prostitute or a tramp? Without asking themselves if they had any impact on the destiny of such a woman?

 

I am Reyhaneh Jabbari and I am 26.

I carry a load of pains I have heard about on my shoulders. I feel responsible to speak out about what I have learned from the depths of our society and in the criminals' center, the prison. May be I can take a step and do my little share in changing the destiny of these women. I would like to stress that no woman falls into the trap of prostitution unless she is raped.

 

I am Reyhaneh Jabbari and I am 26.

I have felt the horror and dread of being raped with my body and soul. Sarbandi was no different from Mahsa's brother or Niyousha's uncle, because I trusted his fatherly and religious posture. He could have made such a destiny for me if I had not struck him in the shoulder. But the dry, lifeless, male-dominated law defends men.

How could men ever feel the crushed soul of a young girl after being raped? How could a man feel the fear of a young woman who’s being attacked and her body and mind gets trapped in the hands of a lustful man? How could a man understand the stifled cry of a young woman who is disgusted by the feeling of the fingers of a rapist running on her body? Men have written the law of rape with their male mindset and with their aggressive spirit. Although I do believe that there are honorable and humanitarian men living in society, but I should clearly say that the law on rape and girls defending themselves against it has been written by male creatures, not supportive and kind men.

 

I, Reyhaneh Jabbari, learned when I was 21 that the male-dominated court did not approve of my defending myself against Sarbandi. They did not put themselves in my shoes even for a moment and they held the trial without paying any attention to my words and without examining the reasons listed in my lawyers' defense. Except for a few sessions that lasted about one hour, all the other sessions were short and only a few minutes long, just for asking a question. Therefore, I got disappointed with the court and the judgment of the judge.

Every night when I heard my name from the prison's loudspeaker announcing that I had to go to the court the next morning, my only hope was to see the ordinary people on the streets and that's how I passed the night until morning. And every time, Judge Tardast assailed me with his face filled with humiliation. In one of the sessions, he brazenly told me that I should have let him rape me and then filed complaint against him! All of his questions were humiliating as if I had been one of those women stuck in the cycle of prostitution. Sometimes the humiliating way he addressed me, made me repeat the foul language of Mina in my heart...

I knew my parents were waiting in the corridor and they would hear me if I answered Judge Tardast. Every time I left the court, I did not look them in the eyes so that they would not realize how much I was ashamed. Their visits somehow coincided with my court hearings every time. They were at the prosecutor's office before I arrived and they always had something for me to eat. Sometimes it was my mother’s cooking with its lifesaving taste that I did not like to eat alone and I did take some of it in any way that was possible for a few of the prisoners I had in mind, so that they could also remember the taste of homemade food....

 

I am Reyahaneh Jabbari and I am 26.

Now I am only a few steps away from death that has been designed for me by Judge Tardast. I do not fear death. I have already experienced death several times in my life. What is more difficult than death is injustice.

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