Strong and Steady, Iran’s Women Bear the Message of Change
Annual report 2016-2017
National Council of Resistance of Iran
Copyright©2017 by Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)
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Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran
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Table of Contents
Forword: Strong and steady, Iran’s women bear the message of change 3
World’s top executioner of women 4
Faces of violence against women in Iran
Torture in prisons 6
Inhuman punishment of flogging 8
Domestic violence 9
Arbitrary arrests, vital to regime’s rule 10
Prisoners of conscience and prison conditions 12
Defying officials in their face 13
Denial of medical treatment 17
Women incarcerated in abysmal conditions 19
Violations of religious and ethnic minority rights 22
Women staged over 100 protests 24
Fate of Iran rulers tied to suppression of women 28
Rising rate of forcible marriage of girl children 30
One divorce every 4 minutes in Iran 32
Women’s suicide in Iran 33
Gender segregation, discrimination everywhere 34
Music, arts prohibited for women 36
Discrimination in education, employment 36
Situation of 3 million women heads of household 38
Restrictions on women in sports 40
The feminine face of poverty 42
Strong and steady, Iran’s women bear the message of change
2016 was a year of fate-making developments for the Tehran regime and the Iranian Resistance movement.
The successful relocation of PMOI/MEK freedom fighters from Iraq to Europe followed by the death of the regime’s No.2 man, Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, dealt major blows to Tehran’s ruling mullahs. Notwithstanding the turn of events in Syria and the US coupled with a bankrupt and corrupt economy, which have placed the regime on the losing grounds and fomented its factional feuding.
Khamenei and his IRGC thus had to gear up repression of the populace and undertake harsher measures as evident by the unprecedented high toll of executions.
The year spanning from March 2016 to February 2017 –the period examined for this study– kicked off with the launch of the new Moral Security Police and its 7000-strong plainclothes force tasked with monitoring of women’s observance of the compulsory veil behind the wheels of their cars.
Soon after, Khamenei, the mullahs’ leader, interfered with a public speech underlining the necessity of hijab (veil) for all women and ruling out any hope of reforms in the face of public defiance of the dress-code.
The speech was followed by various campaigns unprecedented in scale and intensity to crack down on women everywhere and at every opportunity under the pretext of flouting the hijab. Universities were instructed to form committees, governors to form councils to give warning and then deal with women who do not carefully observe the veil.
Then came the fatwa which prohibited women’s bicycling in public.
These nationwide campaigns ran on a bedrock of unremitting daily arrests, detentions, death sentences, flogging, and resumption of stoning and blinding sentences. One official acknowledged that at least 2000 women are arrested every day across the country for improper veiling.
Under such unprecedented clampdown, women staged and participated in more than 100 protests and did not back down from demanding their fundamental freedoms. They called most strongly for end to the death penalty which has hit a record high under Rouhani.
One of the most troubling undertakings for the regime, was the popular embrace of the Iranian opposition leader’s call for justice for the 30,000 victims of the 1988 massacre. Political prisoners Maryam Akbari Monfred who lost her siblings in the massacre and Sedigheh Moradi who was witness to the killings filed complaints against the officials involved from inside their prison cells. Activist mothers also followed suit and demanded justice for their children.
All indications are that Iran’s resilient women will have an even greater impact on the future turn of events, heralding their nation’s freedom and their own equality.
World’s top executioner of women
Women of Iran face the violation of their most basic right that is the right to life.
Ten women have been hanged in Iranian prisons since March 2016, mostly on drug-related charges.
The total number of executions of women in Iran thus reaches 73 only under Rouhani’s government. Many of the executed women have not been publicly identified. Their ages range between 25 and 50.
In one example, a Kurdish woman by the name of Molouk Nouri was hanged in Orumiyeh’s Central Prison along with her husband, Behnam Pirkouzadeghan, on September 29, 2016.
The executions in Iran provoked the UN Secretary General’s reaction.
In a September 2016 report to the UN General Assembly, former UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon expressed serious concerns about the “alarming rate of executions” in Iran.
He pointed out that at least 15 women were executed in Iran in the period between January 2015 and June 2016. The Iranian Resistance has registered 24 executions of women in Iran during the same period.
The Iranian regime has the world highest record of executions, imprisonment and torture of women for their political opposition to the regime. It has been estimated that one third of the total 120,000 opponents executed since 1981 in Iran, have been women and girls. In 1988, alone, thousands of women, members of the opposition People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI/MEK), were hanged in the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners.
Faces of violence against Iran’s women
“There are no special laws to protect women against harassment and violence of their husbands.”
- Behshid Arfania, lawyer, ILNA news agency, June 14, 2016
The Iranian regime has not eased up on its violent policies and conducts against Iran’s women and girls because it is a misogynous regime founded on suppression of women and discrimination against them.
Following are the more important examples of the regime’s last year’s record.
TORTURE IN PRISONS
Kurdish student beaten up, her mother intimidated
Kurdish student Afsaneh Bayazidi was mistreated and tortured to make forced confessions. Ameneh Darvishi, her mother, revealed on August 30, 2016, that Afsaneh had been held 11 days in the toilet of the Intelligence Department of Orumiyeh to compel her to make confessions. Intelligence agents fed her daughter in the same toilet. They tortured her for three months. Afterwards, she had to undergo treatment for two weeks. Afsaneh Bayazidi was arrested at home on April 24, 2016, on the charge of collaboration with Kurdish parties.
Woman goes unconscious during beating-up
Arab political prisoner from Ahwaz, Fahimeh Ismaeli was severely beaten up on June 2, 2016, such that she went unconscious.
The primary school teacher was arrested along with her husband on November 28, 2005, when she was eight months pregnant. One month later, she delivered her baby in a solitary cell in Ahwaz’s detention center in the presence of interrogators and in the absence of any facilities.
Bahaii woman kicked under interrogation
Hana Aghighian, a Bahaii woman, was arrested in March 2016. She was forced by her interrogators to go under the table where she was kicked in the side and other parts of her body.
Member of Tabriz City Council tortured
Elmira Khamachi, member of the City Council of Tabriz, was detained and tortured in solitary confinement for over 50 days during March and April 2016. She was accused of mal-veiling and embezzlement, but she had been actually arrested for insulting the mullahs’ leader, Khamenei, and for turning down and refusing to allocate funds to the economic and social plans of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) by the City Council of Tabriz.
Torture in Mahabad Prison
According to a news on December 10, 2016, political prisoner Shahla Mohammadiani, 28, was tortured during 67 days of detention and interrogation in solitary confinement in Mahabad’s Intelligence Department. Her brother, Himan, said his sister had been tortured so much that her left shoulder had become numb. Shahla is allegedly accused of membership in a Kurdish party and disseminating information against the regime. Her brother denied the charges and said these charges have been fabricated against his sister.
The Iranian regime’s Supreme Court ruled on February 3, 2017, that a woman must be blinded in one eye.
The sentence was issued in retribution for an acid attack that blinded her victim in one eye.
The unidentified woman was found guilty of splashing acid two years ago in the face of another woman identified as Sima, in Dehdasht, capital of the western Iranian province of Kohgiluyeh.
Head of the Kohgiluyeh’s Justice Department, Majid Karami, announced that the woman had been sentenced to blindness in one eye, payment of blood money (compensation), and seven years imprisonment by the Supreme Court. (The state-run Tasnim news agency – February 3, 2017)
Woman to be stoned
The Criminal Court of Lorestan Province sentenced a man and a woman to stoning on February 3, 2017. The woman was identified as S.M. (The state-run Kashkan website, February 3, 2017)
The verdict was issued for the public dissemination of a video clip showing the illicit relationship between a clergy and a woman in Gerab, Koohdasht.
In light of the secret recording of the clip, it is suspected that security and intelligence agencies in Lorestan were involved in setting up the case.
INHUMAN PUNISHMENT OF FLOGGING
At least 42 female activists were sentenced to flogging
– 18 human rights activists were arrested in a gathering on November 20, 2016, in front of the Evin Prison. The demanded freedom of political prisoners. Each of them was sentenced to 74 lashes of the whip.
– Simin Ayvaz-Zadeh, an activist mother who protested her son’s arrest, was sentenced to 91 days of imprisonment and 74 lashes of the whip.
– sentenced to 74 lashes of the whip, each.
– A young woman by the name of Sepideh was sentenced to 99 lashes of the whip and internal exile merely for speaking to man on the phone.
Sentences were carried out in at least 42 cases
– A woman was flogged 100 lashes in public on April 27, 2016, in the city of Golpayegan in Isfahan Province (central Iran).
– 30 young women were given 99 lashes each for participating in a mixed-gender graduation party in Qazvin.
– Ten girl students were flogged 8 lashes each because their parents did not afford to pay an $8.5 fee to their school in Mokhtarabad village, in South Roudbar.
– A 28-year-old woman was flogged 80 lashes for participating in a birthday party.
The news of torture and murder of women by their husbands hit a record high between March and June 2016. At least in ten cases, the victims ranging from a six-year-old girl to a 50-year-old woman did not survive the violence.
– Neighbors in Mashhad accidentally discovered a 30-year-old woman by the name of Azam (pictured above) and her two 5 and 8-year-old daughters and rescued them. They had been tortured for 21 days by their husband and father while being deprived of eating and drinking.
Azam’s husband had broken her nose and cut her rectum with a knife. He confessed that he intended to kill his wife and children and throw them inside a well and burn them in fire.
It was later revealed that the woman had repeatedly complained to judicial authorities to seek help but every time she had been sent back to her abusive husband. (The state-run ISNA news agency – April 23, 2016)
– On April 4, 2016, a young woman was hurt with acid in Tehran. She was burned in the hand and part of the face. The assailant approached his victim with a motorcycle and dashed away after splashing acid on her.
– 29,131 women referred to the Coroner’s Office in April and May 2016, for injuries caused by fights.
– 5,200 cases of incest of young women and teenagers by their fathers and brothers have been filed with the Justice Ministry, just this year.
Arbitrary arrests, prop up the regime’s rule
In the period under study in this report, from March 2016 to February 2017, at least 1060 women have been arrested in Iran for three major reasons:
- Taking part in protest demonstrations and peaceful activities in defense of human rights;
- Taking part in private parties;
- Taking part in activities in social networks.
It should be noted that these are aside from the arrests consistently made on the streets and throughout the country to impose the compulsory veil. This issue is going to be examined in another part of this report.
104 arrested in social protests
At least 104 women have been arrested from March 2016 to February 2017 for participating in protest gatherings and other peaceful activities in defense of fundamental human rights.
These arrests were made among others on the International Labor Day, during the human chains formed to protest diverting the water of Karoun River in Ahwaz, in the gathering of the people of Tabriz to protest government press’s offensive comments on the Azeries, during the general strike in Kurdistan, and also in the gatherings in defense of the rights of political prisoners outside the Evin Prison, the Dena Tyre Building, and the Baghyatollah Hospital in Tehran.
326 arrested for Activity in the social networks
At least 326 young women and girls were arrested by security forces from March 2016 to February 2017 for their activities in the social networks and media, for their faith, and for businesses considered illegal by the regime.
The reasons explained by government sources for arresting these women include disseminating anti-government propaganda, insulting the sanctities, insulting the leader and the regime officials, disseminating lies in social networks, running anti-religious groups, modelling activities, etc.
630 arrested in private parties
At least 630 young women and girls have been arrested from March 2016 to February 2017 merely for taking part in private parties, birthday parties or in traditional ceremonies.
The arrests were made throughout Iran including in Laleh Park and Sorkheh Hessar Park in Tehran, in Damavand and the Province of Alborz (central Iran), in Torghabeh and Shandiz, Chenaran, Neishaboor, and Mashhad in the Razavi Khorassan Province (Northeastern Iran), Sorkhrood in Mazandaran and in Gorgan (Northern Iran), Soufian and Orumiyeh in the East and West Azerbaijan provinces (Northwestern Iran), and in Dezful, Abadan, Bandar Abbas, Kerman and Shiraz (Southern Iran).
Prisoners of conscience, prison conditions
More women received prison sentences over the past year for exercising their fundamental human rights.
Women prisoners faced harsh prison conditions and had to bear tremendous physical and psychological pressure in detention. They were deprived of crucial medical care. On many occasions, their prison leaves were cancelled or security forces raided their cells.
Despite such conditions, they demonstrated great courage in expressing their demands and insisting on their rights even at the cost of hunger strike. They filed suits against the regime officials, chanted death to the dictator in the face of prison guards, and refused to give in to the humiliating demands of their torturers.
Female prisoners who have been incarcerated for exercising their basic human rights, fall into the following categories:
– Political prisoners
such as Maryam Akbari Monfared, Reyhaneh Haj Ibrahim Dabbagh, Sedigheh Moradi1, Zahra Zehtabchi, Fatemeh Mosanna, Fatemeh Rahnama and Maryam Olangi.
– Human rights and anti-death penalty activists
such as Nargess Mohammadi, Atena Daemi, Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, and Roghieh Alizadeh.
– Ethnic minorities and Kurdish prisoners
including Zeinab Jalalian, Qadriyeh Qaderi, Hajar Peari, Afsaneh Bayazidi, Safieh Qaderi, Lavin Karimi, Sahar Faizi, Manijeh Fatehi, Parastoo Hajian, and Asrin Aminzadeh.
– Religious minorities
such as adherents to the Bahaii faith including Nassim Bagheri, Elham Farahani, Azita Rafizadeh, Mahvash Shahriari Sabet, Fariba Kamalabadi, Nava and Nika Kholoosi, as well as Christian prisoner Maryam Naghash Zargaran.
– Dual nationals
such as Homa Hoodfar2 and Nazanin Zaghari.
Defying officials in their face
One would imagine that despite the barbaric tortures and harsh prison conditions, these prisoners would give up their beliefs and regret what they have said and done. A brief review of their acts of bravery over the past year, however, reveals that these prisoners are no ordinary women.
Maryam Akbari Monfared – Suing criminal officials
Political prisoner Maryam Akbari Monfared filed a complaint on October 17, 2016, demanding investigation into the executions of her siblings, three brothers and one sister, who were executed in the 1980s and during the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in summer 1988, on the charge of membership in the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).
Maryam Akbari has three children. She was arrested two days after the December 27, 2009, uprising in Tehran for contacting her sisters and brother who are members of the Iranian Resistance. She was sentenced to 15 years in prison on the charge of waging war against God.
Sedigheh Moradi – Seeking justice
Political prisoner Sedigheh Moradi sent a letter out of prison on November 9, 2016, recounting her memories of the countless executions and massacre of prisoners in 1988. Ms. Moradi was a political prisoner during the 1980s, when she was a teenager.
She called for the prosecution of the perpetrators of these crimes in an international court.
Ms. Moradi was released from prison on November 23, 2016, on the order of the Revision Court after six years of imprisonment which she served without any leaves.
Nargess Mohammadi – Hunger strike
Nargess Mohammadi went on hunger strike on June 27, 2016, in protest to being deprived of calling her twins in France.
In her open letter about this hunger strike she explained that there are no telephones in the women’s ward of Evin Prison for inmates to contact their families.
In response to the pressures imposed on her to give up her resistance, she solemnly wrote, “Although I was languishing in prison and faced another 16-year sentence in a new case recently raised against me, the past year did not make me regret what I did, but further strengthened my beliefs and my will to defend human rights.”
Hajar Peari – Chanting death to the dictator
Intelligence Department agents in the Central Prison of Kerman raided Afsaneh Bayazidi and Hajar Peari’s cell on December 1, 2016, and took away part of their belongings.
Hajar Peari instantly defied the agents and their foul-mouthing by chanting “death to the dictator” in their face for which she was subsequently transferred to a solitary cell.
Hajar Peari, 33, has been imprisoned since 2007 without a single day of leave. She is sentenced to 17 years imprisonment.
Afsaneh Bayazidi – Chanting death to the Islamic Republic
Afsaneh Bayazidi was badly beaten up by prison guards after she defended other prisoners on December 7, 2016, against their bullying. Her answer was chants of “death to the dictator” and “death to the Islamic Republic” which provoked prison guards to attack and beat her up even more than the previous time.
Lavin Karimi – Hunger strike
Lavin Karimi went on hunger strike on December 21, 2016, when prison officials refused to take her to hospital despite her bleeding ulcer.
The 26-year-old student is accused of collaboration with dissident Kurdish parties.
Maryam Naghash Zargaran – Christmas in chains
Tehran’s Prosecutor’s Office decided that Christian prisoner Maryam Naghash Zargaran must not receive conditional leave for Christmas and would have to stay in prison.
The Christian woman has been in prison since July 19, 2013. She is seriously ill and had to go on hunger strike in order to gain her right to leave prison for medical treatment.
Atena Daemi – Rejecting her new charges
Revolutionary Guards raided Atena Daemi’s home on November 26, 2016, violently arresting this children’s rights activist. They transferred her to Evin Prison to start serving her seven-year sentence.
On December 19, 2016, Atena faced a new case filed against her by the Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) on charges of “insulting the leader and officials” and “dissemination of falsities.”
She was informed of her charges at the Evin Prison’s Prosecutor’s Office. In her defense, published on December 25, 2016, she reiterated that all the charges are unfounded.
Golrokh Iraee – Arrested illegally
Security forces broke into Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee’s home in the afternoon of October 24, 2016, and arrested her without showing any written warrants. She was taken to Evin Prison to serve a six-year sentence.
On January 3, 2017, after 72 days of hunger strike by her husband, political prisoner Arash Sadeghi, Ms. Iraee was released from prison on a 600-million-touman bail but she was re-arrested on January 25 and taken to Evin. She is presently in Evin Prison.
Amnesty International issued a statement protesting the illegal arrest of human rights activist Golrokh Iraee and demanded her immediate and unconditional release.
Denial of medical treatment, a common practice of torture
Withholding medical treatment resulting in severe pain or suffering is a common practice in Iranian prisons. It amounts to torture under international law.
Prisoners are denied medical treatment for two general purposes: to force them make confessions which are not true, or to let them die a gradual death without having to execute them.
– Zeinab Jalalian is a well-known case where prison authorities have refused to give her access to an eye specialist and to authorize her transfer to a hospital for urgently needed eye surgery. They have also refused her repeated requests for medical leave. She has become blind in one eye and is losing the sight of the other.
This Kurdish political prisoner was arrested at the age of 25 in March 2008. She has been under constant pressure to go on TV and make false confessions.
– Last January and February, prison officials pressured Qadriyeh Qaderi by ordering her to memorize the Quran otherwise she would be banned from having visits. Earlier, the judge had ordered her release on a bail of 100 million toumans.
– Nargess Mohammadi, Vice President of the League of Advocates of Human Rights, suffers from emboli in the lungs and muscular paralysis. She must consume 23 different medications every day.
She had been released temporarily on a heavy bail because it was proven that she is not able to tolerate prison conditions.
After being re-arrested, prison officials hamper her treatment despite her dangerous condition.
In mid-January 2016, the Ministry of Intelligence filed a new complaint against her because she protested offensive behavior of the guards accompanying her in hospital while she was supposed to be treated for her illnesses.
– Christian prisoner Maryam Naghash Zargaran was a children’s music teacher and has not been informed of her charges. She suffers from a cardiac illness for which she underwent a heart surgery in 2005 and must stay absolutely away from any stress.
Her illness has got complicated by other problems she contracted in prison including a back disc, arthritis in the neck and hands and ear complications.
On June 6, 2016, she was granted medical leave after eleven days of hunger strike. But the Prosecutor did not agree with extension of her leave and threatened to confiscate her bail bond. So, she had to return to jail on June 27, 2016, without completing her medical treatment.
– Maryam Akbari Monfared has been kept in detention for six years without any leaves.
She is facing reprisals after filing a formal complaint that seeks an official investigation into the mass killings of political prisoners, including her siblings, in the summer of 1988, Amnesty International said in a statement on November 3, 2016. The denial of access to medical care follows other forms of reprisals against her, including an order to stop prison visits from her family, and threats to bring fresh criminal charges against her.
– Safieh Sadeghi was arrested in 2010 and taken under interrogation for four months. She was under torture to force her make false confessions.
Ms. Sadeghi suffers from heart and kidney complications and is about to lose one of her kidneys. Despite medical diagnosis and doctors’ instructions, prison officials have prevented her from being treated in a city hospital.
Women jailed in abysmal conditions
Prison conditions and treatment of prisoners in Iran are abysmal. The situation is worse for women because the limited budget and facilities allocated to the Prisons Organization are primarily placed at the disposal of men.
Women’s Ward of Evin Prison
The majority of political prisoners are held in the women’s ward of Evin after they finish the process of interrogations. They are deprived of making phone calls.
The Women’s Ward is consisted of three halls with all windows sealed. So, there is not sufficient sun light for prisoners aggravating their illnesses. Bathrooms and the kitchen lack ventilation.
There is no emergency medical facility for prisoners. To receive her medication, a prisoner must first obtain an authorization, then wait until the visitations day on Sunday, to give the prescription to her relatives to purchase her medicine from an outside pharmacy. Then she will have to wait until the next visit, to receive her medication from her relatives.
Referring to a medical center in the city is tremendously difficult and may take several months to receive just an authorization.
By the time the prisoner receives a medical leave usually after 9 to 12 months, her illness has progressed. Once in the hospital, her treatment is usually interrupted midway.
Every entry and exit to and from the prison requires humiliating frisking. A prisoner must be handcuffed while she walks into the dispensary.
The Women’s Ward is constantly monitored by cameras.
Whenever prison wardens encounter a protest or some form of resistance by prisoners, they threaten to relocate them to the notorious Qarchak Prison.
Notorious Qarchak Prison for Women
Qarchak Prison is the main detention center for female prisoners. It is located in Varmin’s deserts located east of Tehran in very bad weather conditions. 1,200 prisoners are detained there. Swamps and marshes surround the prison, so the prison is filled with insects and rats.
The prison is comprised of seven big, dark and dirty siloes. Every silo holds between 150 and 200 prisoners. The beds are enough for only several dozen people and the rest of inmates have to sleep on the floor among the beds up to the door of the lavatories.
Prisoners with different crimes are not segregated in Qarchak Prison. Death-row prisoners are held among criminals with various crimes.
Prisoners are hungry most of the time as the amount of food is little and its quality horrible.
The state of hygiene is deplorable in Qarchak. Infectious diseases of HIV and hepatitis are endemic amongst the prison population. Sick prisoners are held among others.
Every silo with 189 inmates, has only four lavatories and four baths. Usually two of the baths and one toilet are out of order.
The baths have warm water for only one hour during the day and most of the prisoners have to bathe with cold water. In addition, the water is cut off during most of the day.
Prisoners drink water, wash dishes and clothes in the same baths and lavatories.
In the absence of enough toilets for prisoners, one can see stool scattered all over the silo’s floor.
Many prisoners are bald because the place is dirty and there are no cleaning and washing detergents. So, prisoners shave their hair to avoid lice.
Qarchak’s water is salty and prisoners drink and wash their dishes and clothes with the same water that does not dissolve soap. So, they contract various skin diseases.
In June 2015, there was no water for at least four days.
In August 2015, the sewage system was clogged and black water ran into the fresh-air room. There is no ventilation in the siloes.
There is no medical care in Qarchak Prison. The prison’s so-called dispensary does not do anything even when there is an emergency case.
Some time ago, one of the prisoners died while delivering her baby because there were no soldiers to accompany her to a hospital.
Most recently in January 2017, Shiva Fekri lost her life in Qarchak Prison due to high blood pressure and denial of the necessary treatment.
There was an instance when a problematic prisoner raped and killed her cellmate with a florescent lamp. Prison wardens take advantage of this prisoner to threaten others. Young women are also raped by prison guards.
Rajaii-Shahr Prison, Karaj
Rajaii-shahr Prison in Karaj is the next place where the largest number of women are detained.
Presently, there are 200 female prisoners in this prison, with a variety of crimes. There is only one bathroom and one lavatory. Usually, there is no water and prisoners can use the bathroom only for limited hours. Warm water is available only one hour a day and the rest of the day, prisoners have to take shower with cold water.
Due to the presence of dangerous criminals, bloody clashes, rape and murder are common in this prison.
The situation in other prisons with smaller groups of female inmates is even worse and the prisoners are treated more arbitrarily.
Violations of Religious and Ethnic Minority Rights
Members of religious and ethnic minorities are prosecuted not for their activities but also for their religious or ethnic identity.
During the period under study in this report (from March 2016 to February 2017), a large number of young Kurdish women have been arrested and detained for their alleged activities with dissident Kurdish parties.
Also a large of number of young women have been expelled from university and deprived of continuing their education for adhering to the Bahaii faith.
Many couples were arrested and imprisoned, and face heavy sentences for being Bahaii.
Arrests and detentions
– At least 22 Kurdish women are jailed in prisons across the country.
– At least five Christian women and 31 Bahaii women have been arrested and incarcerated in the period under study.
No minority rituals
– Security forces raided and closed down “House Churches” in Rasht, Shiraz and Karaj.
– Government agents prevented Christians from observing the Christmas and confiscated the furniture and equipment of House Churches.
– In retaliation for observation of the Persian New Year, “Nowrouz”, in Sanandaj (capital of the Iranian Kurdistan Province), 22 Kurdish civil activists were called for interrogation. The residence of one of these women was raided and her belongings were confiscated.
– Bahaii’s are not allowed to bury their dead in places of their choice.
After the passing away of Ms. Pouran Enayati in Tabriz, her family were not granted any license to bury her and she was arbitrarily buried in a remote cemetery near Miandoab.
No education or businesses
– At least 48 young women earning bachelors or master’s degrees have been deprived of education for adhering to the Bahaii faith and expelled from their universities.
– Azita Rafizadeh, mother of a 6-year-old boy, and her husband are presently incarcerated for teaching in the Bahaii Institute for Higher Education.
– Bahaii-owned businesses are inspected and sealed up.
Ms. Sara Akhlaghi, a Bahaii woman residing in Shiraz, owned a Wedding Gown Maison that was sealed up by security forces for a month. On June 15, 2016, she was summoned to court and arrested on the site.
– An Ahl-e Hagh woman by the name of Fatemeh Jaderi Jalilvand who worked for the Department of Education in Kermanshah was also expelled from her job.
Women staged over 100 protests despite harsh repression
Suppression of Iranian women and their arrest and imprisonment have not been able to prevent their activism and protests. They have rather been more persistently following up their just demands by taking part in protest gatherings and playing an ever more active role in opposition to the ruling policies.
Various strata of women have staged more than 100 protests in the past year.
Mothers of execution victims and political prisoners
Activist mothers staged 32 acts of protest over the past year.
They observed the anniversaries of the death of their loved ones and victims of execution; they participated in the protests outside the Evin Prison, they participated in the ceremony on the anniversary of the victims of the 1988 massacre and also in the protest gatherings in support of political detainees and demanding their freedom.
Supporters of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience
26 protest gatherings were staged over the past year in support of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.
These gatherings were held in front of the Iranian Parliament (Majlis), outside the Evin Prison, in front of the UN office, outside the Ministry of Justice, etc.
On three instances, the gatherings were attacked violently. Security forces beat up the protesters with clubs and electric shockers. They also arrested over 20 women in front of the parliament and some 30 women in the gathering outside the UN Office in Tehran.
Teachers and Education Ministry Staff
Teachers and employees of the Education Ministry staged 30 protests in the past year. Women played a prominent role in these protests.
Demanding freedom for Ismael Abdi, General Secretary of the Teachers’ Trade Union; protesting against violations of teachers’ rights; protesting injustice in the employment of teachers, their low wages and retirement benefits, and deplorable living conditions, were among the reasons for these protests.
Girl students staged eight protests in student spaces.
Lack of security and dire living conditions in student dormitories, pressures for observing the compulsory veil, harsh disciplinary rules, and discrimination against girls were among the reasons for these protests.
Civil and environmental activists
Female civil and environmental activists played active and pre-eminent roles in 11 demonstrations to promote protection of the environment, to protest shortage of drinking water, high number of road accidents in Piranshahr, the anti-labor legislation to change the labor law, lack of government response to the demands for housing, and the ban imposed on women’s bicycling.
Fate of Iran rulers tied to suppression of women
One of the main pillars of suppression of women in Iranian society is imposing the mandatory veil and the compulsory dress code. According to Article 102 of the Punishment Code ratified in 1983, women who appear in public and in the streets without the religious veil are punishable with 74 lashes of the whip.
In the past 38 years, at least 26 government agencies have been charged with the responsibility of imposing the veil in society. Every year, they undertake new measures to carry out this task.
Formation of Moral Security patrols, invisible patrols, Mountains Police, Beaches Police, Street Police, etc. are among the measures undertaken in 2016 to monitor women more closely and in all social environments. Special emphasis was placed on the activities of the Veil and Virtue Front comprised of 301 institutes all across the country to further restrict women’s room for activity in society. Hundreds of gatherings were held in the capital and other cities. Huge billboards were set up by these organs and agencies to promote the compulsory veil.
– A new stage of activity by the Moral Security Patrols started on April 16, 2016, in Tehran to counter mal-veiling and unveiling in vehicles. Tehran’s Police Chief also announced on April 18, that 7000 invisible security police forces had been organized to implement the Moral Security Plan in the capital. He said they would monitor and report those who drop their veils in their cars, as one of their four main duties.
– Hundreds of new councils tasked with promoting good and forbidding evil were launched in government offices and departments in all provinces. 136 such councils were set up in government offices in Hamedan Province, 100 in Lorestan Province, etc.1
– Judicial and State Security forces in cities across the country reported impounding the cars and harsh dealing with car owners whose passengers had dropped their veils. Thousands of cars were impounded last year indicating women’s defiance of the compulsory veil in general. The state-run media and press reported on a number of occasions on the impounding of over 1300 cars in Alborz Province, 215 vehicles in Chahar Mahal-e Bakhtiari, 180 cars in Hamedan and 300 cars in Kerman Province, while other reports did not mentions numbers but indicated that they had implemented the plan.2
– There were numerous plans in summer and on holidays, to prevent women from going into water and to limit their presence on beaches in the coastal provinces. Such plans received more budget, forces and equipment to facilitate clamping down on women.
A plan called, “Gilan Mehr”, was launched at 140 recreational points in Gilan Province and along the Caspian Sea.3 The SSF commander of the northern province of Mazandaran also announced that 780 motorized units would patrol all public places and shopping centers throughout the province.4
– Modelling was banned in Iran in October 2016.5 The State Security Force had already stepped up its clampdown on women and other people associated with the modelling business in May.
A “sting” operation code-named “Spider 2” had been set up to trawl through social media feeds and find Iranian women posting pictures of themselves without hijab. As a result eight models were arrested in May and 59 photographers and make-up artists, 58 individual models, 51 fashion salon managers, and others involved were identified and dealt with in Tehran.
Similar operations were reported in Shiraz, Tabriz, Ardebil, Mashhad, Kurdistan, Zahedan, Arak, and Qazvin where at least 90 women were arrested for modelling and over 250 shops, ateliers and photographers were sealed and shut down by city and state security forces.
– Thousands of stores were sealed up and shut down last year all across the country for selling non-standard and improper clothing. In one instance, SSF Commander Sajedinia declared that the SSF had sealed up over 4400 apparel stores in one year.6 See-through, designer, and button-less robes as well as graphic shirts and dresses with writings in foreign languages are considered indecent by the Iranian regime.
– Commander of the State Security Force, Hossein Ashtari, admitted that “some 2000 women are arrested every day in Tehran and some other provinces, for wearing unsuitable clothes.”7
– The Ministry of Higher Education instructed all universities in August 2016 to form Hijab Committees and present their plans on three main topics of informing, guiding and dealing with violators. Hijab committees in universities are obliged to report their measures to the ministry every three months.8
For example, the Student Services Council in Iran announced that 100 students were summoned to the Elm-o Sanat University’s disciplinary committee in February 2016 for improper veiling while 360 had been summoned in the month of January.
The Council also announced that 150 Tehran University students were also summoned by the disciplinary committees at the university in January and February 2016.
- The state-run Fars news agency, October 8, 2016; Tasnim news agency, October 2, 2016.
- The state-run Fars news agency, May 10, 2016; Mehr news agency, June 19, 2016; IRNA news agency, September 28, 2016; Mizan Online, November 6, 2016; Fars News Agency, January 19, 2017.
- The state-run Fars news agency, June 22, 2016.
- The state-run IRNA news agency, July 5, 2016.
- Secretary of Fashion working group, Hamid Ghobadi, interview with Fars news agency, October 21, 2016.
- The state-run Khabar Online, August 12, 2016.
- The state-run Tasnim news agency, September 29, 2016.
- The state-run Mehr news agency, August 7, 2016.
Forcible marriage of girl children is on the rise
Child marriages have turned into a serious problem in Iran as it is legalized and sanctioned by the Iranian regime’s law. Child marriage is one of the main causes of young girls dropping out of school and losing access to education. There have also been reports of suicide and running away by young teenage girls to escape forced marriage.
The Iranian regime’s law sets the legal age of marriage for girls at 13 and religiously it is sanctioned to have girls married at age 9. So, this is the main cause underlying this problem. While Iran has signed the Convention on the Rights of Children.
– The statistics registered by the National Census Registrar indicates that 37,117 young girls under 15 years of age got married over the past year.
1511 youngsters under 15 years of age had one child.
– According to the General Director of the Census Registrar in the province of Kurdistan, 339 marriages with girls under 15 years of age have been registered in Kurdistan Province. The age of girls varied from 10 to 14. (The state-run Kurd Today website, December 20, 2016)
– Six girls under 10 years were married in one year in Kurdistan. Another 164 girls were married to men 20 years older than them. (The state-run IRNA news agency, May 19, 2016)
– In Ahar, a city in the East Azerbaijan Province, 114 girls under 15 years of age got married in the year spanning from March 2015 to March 2016.
– Another government official in East Azerbaijan announced on January 27, 2017, that in the same time period 3944 young girls under the age of 15 had been married in this province.
– According to the report of Shahrvand local newspaper, in Pesk-e Sofla village in West Azerbaijan Province, girls get engaged when they are between 7 and 11 years old. (The state-run Mehr news agency, July 23, 2016)
– It was also reported that young girls between 12 and 13 are wed to older men with multiple spouses in the southeastern province of Sistan-o Baluchistan because of rampant poverty. So when they are 20, their husbands turn 70 or 80. (The state-run ILNA news agency, January 27, 2017)
– In February 2016, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child rebuked Tehran by saying, “The committee is seriously concerned about the reports of increasing numbers of girls at the age of 10 years or younger who are subjected to child and forced marriages to much older men.”
One Divorce Every 4 minutes
Discrimination and inequality in Iran manifest themselves in the form of domestic violence, forced marriages, violations of the most basic rights, and lack of government support for women on a background of poverty, unemployment, economic bankruptcy and prepare the grounds for the soaring rate of divorce in today’s society which presently stands at one divorce every four minutes.
– Based on the National Census Registrar of Iran, 500 couples get divorced every day across the country. More than 80 per cent of divorce applicants are women. One out of every four marriages in Iran leads to divorce. In other words, a couple gets divorced every three minutes and 45 seconds. (The state-run Quds Online website, May 28, 2016)
– The divorce rate has reached 50 per cent in some provinces. In Tehran alone, 90 couples get divorced every day. (Head of the National Welfare Organization, the state-run ISNA news agency, May 2, 2016)
– General Director of Family Affairs in the Ministry of Sports and Youths, Nasser Sobhi, announced: 19 divorces take place every hour and 450 every 24 hours across the country. (The state-run IRNA news agency, January 3, 2017)
– The divorce rate in Isfahan Province had a 20 per cent increase in the period between March and December 2015, compared to the same period in 2014. (Touraj Haji Rahimian, Gen. Director of Census Registrar of Isfahan Province, the state-run IRNA news agency, January 2, 2016)
– Hassan Nayyeri, Gen. Director of the Census Registrar in Khorassan Province, declared: 10,317 divorces took place only in Mashhad from March 2015 to March 2016. (May 2, 2016)
Women’s Suicide: third in the world, first in the Middle East
Iran ranks third in the world and first in the Middle East with regards to women’s suicide.
Women are under constant pressure for their clothing; they are subjected to inequality and discriminated against; they are deprived of job opportunities, and they are humiliated in various forms.
According to recent studies, Iranian women set themselves on fire as the most common method of suicide. Here are a few examples.
– A pregnant woman, 26, set herself on fire and died on February 6, 2016, in Marivan.
– Three sisters, aging 43 to 50, opened the gas valve in their apartment in Tehran and took their own lives. (The state-run Mizan Online, March 1, 2016)
– Laila, 10, committed suicide in a village in Kurdistan. (April 14, 2016)
– A pregnant woman, 35, set herself on fire in a park in Fasa, Fars Province. (The state-run Tabnak website, April 24, 2016)
– A 71-year-old woman hanged herself by her own scarf and died in Dezful. (The state-run Mehr news agency, May 21, 2016)
– A girl, 16, hanged herself in the school’s restroom in Tehran. (June 7, 2016)
– Mahasti, a 12-year-old girl from Kamyaran, ended her own life to escape her grandmother’s pressure to marry a 25-year-old disabled and mentally retarded man. (August 1, 2016)
– Two young girls threw themselves off the rooftop in Tehran and lost their lives. (The state-run Mehr news agency, August 13, 2016)
– A 19-year-old girl set herself on fire in Sanandaj and died in a hospital in Tabriz. (September 5, 2016)
– A 30-year-old woman doused herself with kerosene and set herself on fire, in Tehran’s Keshavarz Blvd. (September 5, 2016)
– Saadat Rezaii, mother of a one-year toddler, set herself on fire and lost her life. (November 14, 2016)
Gender Segregation, discrimination everywhere
One of the most prominent manifestations of discrimination against women in Iran is institutionalization of gender segregation in the social structure and depriving women of their most natural activities and actions.
As a result of segregation women are marginalized, eliminated and as a result discriminated against, suppressed and doubly oppressed. Following are examples over the past year:
– Bicycling of women was banned in public places in Mashhad, Isfahan, Kurdistan and other cities.
– Women’s bicycling was described as a mischief in line with drug-trafficking which violates national security. (Mullah Yousef Tababaii-Nejad, Khamenei’s representative in Isfahan, the state-run Aftab website, May 14, 2016)
– The first all-women’s wagon started rolling on April 4, 2016, with the Tehran-Mashhad train.
– It was announced illegal to open restaurants near women’s hair-dressers and girls’ high schools. (The state-run ISNA news agency, April 7, 2016)
– No kindergarten is allowed to have mixed swimming sessions. If a kindergarten commits such a violation, it would be sealed off. (The state-run Tasnim news agency, July 18, 2016)
– The Ministry of Sciences and Higher Education announced that it would not issue any licenses for mixed camping student events. (The state-run Mehr news agency, August 21, 2016)
Music, arts, prohibited for women
One of the arenas where women are most discriminated against and eliminated from is music.
Patriarchal laws often eliminate women from the stage and marginalize them.
– Security forces in Sanandaj cancelled a Kurdish poem recital event sponsored by a Kurdish poetess at the university on March 4, 2016.
– Female members of Hafez Nazeri Orchestra were not allowed to perform in their concert in Isfahan. (The state-run Khabar Online, May 7, 2016)
– The Security Office (Harasat) of Mazandaran Province announced that it is absolutely forbidden to stage any mixed-sex concerts or camping events. (May 23, 2016)
– A female player by the name of Melani Avanessian was prevented from going on stage to perform in the Parizad Concert. (The state-run Fars news agency, December 26, 2016)
Discrimination against women in education, employment
Iranian women are systematically discriminated against and eliminated from educational fields and the job market.
The Iranian regime’s legislators seek to drive women into their homes and argue that there are no opportunities for women in the job market. Therefore, they justify imposing restrictions on women’s education, too.
In 2012, the Iranian regime implemented an extensive gender quota plan in universities and deprived girls altogether from registering in 77 fields for Bachelor’s degree.
Discrimination against women in employment and job opportunities forces them to accept unofficial jobs with lower wages.
According to the World’s Economic Forum, Iran ranks 141st among 145 countries with regards to gender gap.
The Iranian regime releases drastically inconsistent figures. By any standard, however, the figures confirm the deplorable state of women’s economic participation in Iran.
A former parliamentary deputy revealed that more than 2.5 million women are seeking job opportunities but they suffer under destitution and poverty since they cannot do anything about it.
Soheila Jelodarzadeh who was speaking on April 25, 2016, described the situation disastrous, adding that one of the working women’s main concerns is lack of job security. She noted, “36 years after the revolution, it is not clear whether women have to work or not? The majority of female workers and economic and production firms do not have job contracts and if they do it is only for one to three months.”
The following statistics appeared in the state-run media and the press. In light of intense censorship in Iran and the government’s policy of concealment, one should consider these figures as being way below the reality.
– The average rate for participation of the female work force is 50 per cent in the world, and 20 per cent in the Middle East and North Africa. In Iran, however, the participation rate for – (Website of the Statistics Center)
– Two million girls have graduated from universities in the past 20 years. However, unemployment rate among women has increased. Women’s economic participation has also dropped from 39.5 to 27 per cent.
(Sussan Bastani, deputy for strategic studies in Rohani’s presidential directorate for Women and Family Affairs, the state-run ISNA news agency, February 13, 2016)
– In the five-year period between 2009 and 2013, an average of 100,000 women were laid off from their jobs every year.
(The Labor Ministry, February 7, 2016)
– Women’s unemployment rate is double that of men’s.
(Vahideh Negin, advisor to the Cooperation Minister in women’s affairs, the state-run ILNA news agency, February 13, 2016)
– Economic participation among Iranian women older than 10 years, is 13.8 per cent.
(The state-run Fars news agency, January 4, 2016)
– Despite greater presence of women in universities and in graduate levels, women’s presence in the science faculties of universities is only between 20 to 23 per cent.
(The state-run Khabar Online, January 1, 2016)
– The unemployment rate for young women under 30 years is 85.9 per cent.
(The state-run Mehr news agency, January 5, 2016)
– 50.6 per cent of women in the 20-24 range are unemployed.
(The state-run Tabnak website, December 26, 2016)
– More than 40 per cent of young women are unemployed.
(2013 workforce census, the state-run Mehr news agency, April 9, 2016)
– Women receive 29 per cent less than men for equal work.
(Research by Talent Institute, the state-run ILNA news agency, April 25, 2016)
– According to the Comprehensive Employment Examination, 961 job titles are allocated to men and only 16 to women. Men are absorbed 11 times more than women in the field of general medicine. In nursing, 7 job opportunities belong to men and no similar opportunities have been considered for women.
(The state-run Khabar Online website, July 27, 2016)
– 60 per cent of Isfahan Province’s female graduates are looking for jobs.
(Zahra Akhavan, deputy for women’s affairs in Isfahan’s Chamber of Commerce, the state-run Mehr news agency, May 19, 2016)
– According to the estimates of the Welfare Organization, 3 to 5 per cent of unemployment in every region is from the disabled population. This figure is double for disabled women.
(The state-run ISNA news agency, December 14, 2016)
Grim situation of 3,500,000 Women heads of household
The issue of women heads of households has turned into a serious challenge in Iranian society. 70 per cent of Iranian single-parent households are run by women.
Female heads of household generally fall into one of the two categories: Those who lost their husbands due to death or divorce, and those whose husbands are unable to provide for the family’s living due to unemployment, retirement, imprisonment, etc.
Over the past year, the number of female-headed households in Iran has reached at least 3 million, comprising about 15 per cent of the total 22 million Iranian households.
Ebrahim Ghaffari, General Director of Golestan’s Welfare Organization, announced on February 12, 2017, that the number of female-headed households will reach 3.5 million by the end of this (Persian) year in March 2017.
He added that only 18 per cent of these women have employment and the rest grapple with unemployment.
Living conditions for these women is described as being under the “death line” because even if they receive pension, it is only 53 to 100 thousand toumans ($17-33) a month, while the poverty line in Iran is about 2.5 million toumans ($8300) for every family.
A National Welfare Organization official said the organization gives aid to only 180,000 families out of the 3 million in need.
Another government official acknowledged that the age of women heads of household has dropped down to 35.
Rare official announcements set the number of single women heads of household at 57,885 in Sistan-o Baluchistan Province (southeast Iran), 50,000 in Lorestan (western Iran), and 10,000 in Isfahan Province (central Iran). The southern Fars Province officials said they provide assistance to 78,821 women heads of household.
Discrimination, restrictions against women in sports
Iranian women have fought their way into sports over the years and not allowed the clerical regime to eliminate them from the athletic fields. They even collect funds for themselves to be able to participate in international tournaments despite government’s policiy of refusing them support. However, women are still not allowed into stadiums. Here are some examples of violations of women’s rights in this field over the past year:
– Khamenei’s fatwa: “Women’s riding bicycle in public will attract men’s attention and exposes society to corruption. Therefore it must be abandoned.” (The state-run Fars news agency, September 10, 2016)
– Security forces prevented entry of female bicyclists to Torghabeh Shandiz because of their clothing. The town’s public prosecutor announced that the town would control and prevent entry of mal-veiled bicyclists.” Javad Shokri added, “I reiterate that mal-veiled bicyclists will be stopped and dealt with.” (The state-run Mehr news agency, June 23, 2016)
– State Security forces prevented women and girls from participating in the “Pure Tuesday” bicycle marathon. The event was held to promote a day without vehicles is support of a healthy environment. (July 27, 2016)
– A 15-year-old football fan who intended to enter Azadi Stadium in boy’s clothes was arrested. (The state-run Varzesh3 website, May 13, 2016)
– Despite promises made by the Volleyball Federation of Iran, Iranian women were again not allowed to enter Azadi Stadium to watch the volleyball match between Iran and Serbia on July 1, 2016.
– One of the most active women’s football teams called Malavan (Sailors) was dissolved. Sara Ghomi, the team’s captain, had criticized the club’s authorities in an interview. Subsequently, the club’s executive director, Rezai’yan announced that the team is going to be dissolved. (The state-run ISNA news agency, July 29, 2016)
– The “Extra-Territorial Council” decided to cancel the Iranian women’s football game with Sweden. The teams were scheduled to play on October 9, 2016, in the stadium of Gothenburg. (The state-run Tabnak website, October 3, 2016)
– Nasser Pour-Ali Fard, President of the Iranian Body-Building Federation, announced that women are banned from participating in body-building tournaments. (The state-run Tasnim news agency, November 14, 2016)
– Seven-year-old girl was not allowed to enter the stadium. Security forces prevented a seven-year-old girl from entering Tehran’s Azadi Stadium to watch a football game along wither father. She had travelled all the way from Shabestar to watch an important competition between two of the country’s best teams, Esteghlal and Trakhtorsazi. (The state-run Khabar Online news agency, December 10, 2016)
The feminine face of poverty
Women’s poverty is one of the most harrowing and shocking scenes in Iranian society. Lack of jobs and housing lead to poverty and destitution, causing disastrous situations where women are forced to sell their infants. The number of women who sleep in the streets on cardboard boxes has widely increased and most recently, women were found living in pre-dug cemetery graves.
The age of prostitution has dropped to 16 and the average age of women who sleep in cardboard boxes in Tehran streets has dropped to 17. (Reza Jahangiri-fard, deputy for social services of Tehran’s Municipality, the state-run ILNA news agency, November 5, 2013)
Some shocking examples which found their way to the press last year, follow:
– At least 10,000 young women engage in prostitution out of poverty. 35% of them are married. 30% of them have high school education and higher; 50% have not completed high school; only a small percentage are illiterate. (Mowj news agency, June 11, 2016)
– Age of prostitution has dropped to 16, and age of addiction to 14 years in Iran. (Pathologist Majid Abhari, the state-run Fars news agency, May 3, 2016)
– Women who sleep in cardboard boxes in the streets rent their children 15,000 toumans ($5) a day for begging or sell them for 2 million toumans (approx. $670). (Farahnaz Rafe’ii, head of the Red Crescent Volunteers Organization, Young Journalists Club, February 29, 2016)
– Currently 7 addicted children are born every day in Tehran. Some parents sell their children. Infants are sold between 2 to 25 million toumans (approx. $670 – $8350). (Pathologist Majid Abhari, the state-run Fars news agency, May 3, 2016)
– “Today, we witness sale of unborn infants in their mothers’ uterus and before they are born. We do not have the exact numbers of these infants, but their numbers is large enough to make news.” (Molaverdi, Rouhani’s deputy in Women and Family Affairs, the state-run ILNA news agency, June 22, 2016)
– Women’s addiction has exceeded the previous 4 per cent and reached 10 per cent. (Rabii, Rouhani’s Labor Minister, the state-run ILNA news agency, June 26, 2016)
– One of the ways for women to earn their living is resorting to the trash beans to find food leftovers. (Mousavi Chelek, deputy of Welfare Organization, the state-run ILNA news agency, October 8, 2016)
– The number of homeless women in Tehran has had a 100 per cent growth. (Fatemeh Daneshvar, member of Tehran’s City Council, the state-run Tasnim news agency, December 5, 2016)
– A woman by the name of Shahnaz lives in a grave along with her 18-year-old son and 16-year-old twins. (The state-run Tabnak website, December 27, 2016)
– Some 200 women including pregnant women, disabled women, elderly women, and child girls live in 100 tents in south Tehran in the severe cold. (Head of the Social Committee of Tehran’s City Council, the state-run Mizan news agency, January 3, 2017)