One million out of 3 million working Iranian women have lost their jobs
In circumstances when the Coronavirus has spread around the world, the clerical regime in Iran is taking advantage of the pandemic to send more people to their deaths and prevent an outburst of nationwide protests and uprisings.
Various strata of the Iranian society, particularly women are feeling the burden of poverty more and more every day. Some 80 percent of the Iranian populace are living under the poverty line.
One of the unsolved predicaments under the clerical regime is women’s employment. Over the past year, some 1 million out of the 3 million working Iranian women lost their jobs. Different strata of women including nurses and heads of households are prime victims of the ruling regime’s wrong policies and mismanagement.
January saw many reports on the lay-off and expulsion of working Iranian women and also on the horrible conditions of nurses and women heads of household who work without insurance or any form of government support.
The Iranian regime also continued to crack down on human rights defenders and political prisoners as a top priority. This report has also a brief glance over the conditions of rights activists, political prisoners and prison conditions.
70% of working Iranian women lost their jobs
The quarterly report of the National Statistics Center (NSC) in summer 2020 described women’s share of the job market as disproportionate. Based on these figures, 70% of working Iranian women have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 crisis. (The state-run ISNA news agency – January 10, 2021)
As far as the issue of employment is concerned, women have suffered more than men. Women have lower incomes, less savings and no job support. More women are recruited for unstable jobs. Many women are employed in places like hairdressers, food centers, hotels, salons, etc. A lot of women are also working in schools and kindergartens. These women are part of the sectors who have been hard hit by the pandemic and its economic consequences. Others have lost their jobs because of restrictions on the job market and shutdown of many businesses.
Nearly one million working Iranian women were laid off during the first six months of the Iranian year (March – September 2020).
“Women’s employment was reduced by 749,000 individuals in spring 2020, compared to the same time last year,” said Alaeddin Asvaji, general director of the office of policy-making and expansion of employment in the Labor Ministry. He added, “Another 120,000 women lost their jobs from spring to summer 2020. These statistics show how much the outbreak of the Coronavirus has impacted women’s employment.” (The state-run Arman daily newspaper – January 30, 2021)
Many working Iranian women are employed on a daily-rate basis. Day rate workers do not enjoy contracts or insurance, including unemployment insurance. Daily rate jobs have become a routine practice. Women, and particularly the women heads of household have become the prime victims of the cycle of the Coronavirus outbreak and economic stringency.
No job opportunities for women heads of households
Despite their skills, women heads of households face numerous problems for getting employed, says Mahmoud Abbasi, the Justice Ministry’s deputy for human rights and international affairs. “Only 10 percent of women heads of households have access to job opportunities while 30 percent of them have a good command of at least one profession.”
Abbasi added, “Considering the growing numbers of women heads of households, the vicious cycle of unemployment is also on the rise.” (The state-run salamatnews.ir – January 20, 2021)
The mullahs’ misogynistic regime has never recognized the 4 million women heads of households as breadwinners of their families. It has not adopted any comprehensive law to empower or grant support to women heads of households. The regime’s parliament has not considered any budget for the organizations tasked with supporting these women. Failure to support these women also impacts their children who will have no future but to work in the streets as child laborers.
The Welfare Organization in Iran covers only 850,000 of the 4 million women heads of households. The women who have this coverage also face myriads of economic and psychological problems aggravated by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Now, one could conceive of the horrible conditions of over 3 million women heads of households who do not enjoy any support and the problems they face to make ends meet and support their children.
Throngs of unemployed graduate students
Unemployment of graduate university students is another irremediable crisis of the mullahs’ bankrupt regime. In border provinces of Iran like Kermanshah and Kurdistan (western Iran), this crisis drives young people to undertake exhausting and risky jobs such as carrying heavy burdens.
The state-run Fars news agency reported on the atrocious employment conditions in the border provinces on December 20, 2020.
“Some 60 percent of working people in the border provinces are engaged in informal jobs,” Fars wrote. It added that some 58 percent of all the working people in provinces of West Azerbaijan (northwestern Iran) and Sistan and Baluchistan (southeastern Iran) are also working in the informal job sector.
According to the statistics published by the National Statistics Center (NSC), 40 percent of university graduates in Iran are unemployed, and they include more women than men.
Nurses and overdue wages
Women make up 80 percent of nurses in Iran and they face inequality. This toiling sector held at least 21 protests in January.
Around 45 to 50 percent of nurses in Iran are employed by private companies on temporary contracts. Therefore, they are deprived of official and permanent employment.
“The Ministry of Health has launched a propaganda blitz about having increased the nurses’ salaries by a small percentage,” said Mohammad Reza Sharifi Moghaddam, the general director of the House of Nurses, adding, “But this raise is for all healthcare workers and not nurses alone…”
On the situation of nurses hired by private companies, Sharifi Moghaddam asserted, “Recruitment of nurses by private companies started in 2013. Working through private companies is a new method of exploiting nurses. Because of the power of the Health Ministry’s mafia system, this exploitation is greater. Nurses hired by private companies have not received any raise.” (The state-run ROKNA news agency – January 1, 2021)
Nurses hired by private companies work just like other nurses who are officially and permanently employed. Their salaries, however, are between 2 to 4 million Tomans less. (The state-run ILNA news agency – January 4, 2021)
The oppression of nurses does not end at this point. A group of nurses who worked in hospitals in Khuzestan Province (southwestern Iran) have been fired without paying their salaries. (The state-run ILNA news agency – January 2, 2021)
Nurses of Yasuj also held a protest because of the Medical Sciences University’s refusal to employ them officially. These nurses have been working in hospitals of Yasuj since the beginning of the outbreak. Yasuj is the capital of Boyer Ahmad and Kohgiluyeh Province in southwestern Iran.
Nurses of Shiraz, capital of Fars Province in southern Iran, also held several protests during January to demand their rights and salaries.
Some 60,000 out of the 145,000 nurses working across the country have been infected with the Coronavirus, said Mirzabeigi, head of the Nursing System Organization. He added that 6,000 nurses have been quarantined and some 100 of them have lost their lives. (The state-run IRNA news agency – December 17, 2020)
Prisoners and Prison Conditions
Another woman executed in January
The clerical regime’s Judiciary officials had a woman hanged in the Central Prison of Sanandaj at dawn on January 27, 2021. No details are available on the identity of this unfortunate woman.
This is the 112th woman executed during the tenure of Hassan Rouhani. The Iranian clerical regime is the world’s top record holder in execution of women.
Arbitrary executions and heavy sentences
The clerical regime continued with its arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders and handing down heavy sentences to them.
At least 9 women were apprehended in the wave of arrests of at least 76 Kurdish activists.
Fariba Ahmadi in Naghadeh and Rojin Mohammadpour from Bukan were arrested on January 19. Gelavij Abdollahi was arrested on January 12. No information is available on the place of detention or the fate of these three women.
Azimeh Nasseri was arrested in Bukan, Darya Talebani in the student dormitory of Kharazmi University of Karaj, and Esrin Mohammadi in Tehran on January 9, 2021. They were transferred to the detention center of the IRGC Intelligence in Urmia after several days.
Nazanin Atabaki and Nasrin Yazdanipour were summoned by the Security Police of the State Security Force in Kermanshah. They were arrested and interrogated on January 16. They are solo singers working with Gelaris all-women musical band. They were released temporarily on bail until their prosecution process is completed.
Taraneh Mohammadi, a young Kurdish poetess, was abducted by intelligence agents on January 11. They harassed and insulted her and threatened to cut her tongue if she continued to write poetries. This young poetess writes poems about national rights of the Kurds, women’s rights, children’s rights and issues like forced marriages and violence against women.
In other developments, Mahboubeh Rezaii was arrested on January 19 and taken to the Prison of Bushehr (southern Iran) to begin serving her 2.5-year sentence.
Women’s rights activist Tahmineh Mofidi was arrested at her home in Tehran on January 2. She was detained and interrogated in the IRGC Intelligence Ward 2A of Evin Prison under uncertain status. No information has been provided on the reasons and charges against Ms. Mofidi.
Labor activist Haleh Safarzadeh and her husband, Alireza Saghafi, were summoned to the Courthouse of Karaj to serve their one-year prison sentence.
The clerical regime’s courts also handed down heavy prison sentences for human rights defenders and activists. They included Raha Asgarizadeh, journalist, photographer and women’s rights activist who was sentenced to 2 years. Zahra Nazouri, wife of a political prisoner, received one year. Journalist and media activist Moloud Hajizadeh received a one-year prison sentence. Najmeh Mir-Akhorli, 61, was sentenced to 5 years in prison, and Shakila Monfared to 6 years. Ms. Monfared was immediately taken to prison to serve her term.
Conditions of political prisoners
The mullahs’ regime continued with its persecution of political prisoners in January. They were harassed, threatened, banished and deprived of medical treatment.
Political prisoner Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee was returned to Qarchak Prison on January 24, but was sent to exile to the Prison of Amol, in northern Iran, without finding the time to receive his personal belongings and warm clothing. She had just finished 43 days of interrogation in the IRGC Intelligence Ward 2A in Evin Prison.
Before being returned to Qarchak, she was summoned to the Evin Courthouse to present her last defense against being charged with “propaganda against the state.” Her lawyer was not present during the trial.
Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee was violently moved out of Qarchak Prison on December 13, 2020, to be sent to Ward 2A of Evin. She was imprisoned for 3 years since 2016 when she was arrested for writing an unpublished story against the cruel punishment of stoning. After being released, she was arrested and detained in Qarchak Prison to serve a 25-month sentence for another case.
It is said that a new case is being fabricated against her and this has been the reason for her recent interrogations.
The 28th Branch of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court convened on January 5, 2021, to examine the charges against political prisoner Forough Taghipour and her mother Nassim Jabbari. They were arraigned with the charge of “propaganda against the state.” The presiding judge threatened them with a heavier charge of Moharebeh or waging war on God which is punishable by death under the clerical regime. Forough Taghipour rejected this allegation and pleaded not guilty.
Agents of the regime’s Intelligence Ministry arrested Forough Taghipour, 25, and her mother, Nassim Jabbari, 58, as well as Zahra Safaei and her daughter, Parastoo Mo’ini on February 24, 2020. Their interrogations ended in mid-April when they were transferred from Ward 209 of Evin to Qarchak Prison.
Ms. Jabbari was released on bail on the eve of the Persian New Year. These political prisoners have always been under pressure of security and intelligence services in Qarchak. Ordinary inmates hired by the prison’s warden have attacked them several times intent on killing or injuring them.
They are charged with having contact and supporting the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran.
Saba Kord Afshari was violently moved from Ward 8 of Qarchak Prison to Ward 6 among convicts of violent crimes on January 26. Prison guards caught her by the hair, dragged her on the ground and moved her out of the ward. They also tied her hands in the back. Ms. Kord Afshari’s arms have been badly bruised.
Nazanin Mohammad-Nejad, 32, student of Russian language at Tehran’s Allameh Tabatabaii University who was arrested on December 8, 2020, at her home in Tehran, was still detained in solitary confinement in Evin Prison throughout January without standing trial. No information is available on the charges and reasons for the arrest of Ms. Mohammad-Nejad.
Denial of medical treatment
One of the clerical regime’s common methods of torturing political prisoners and killing them is denying them medical treatment.
Political prisoner Massoumeh Senobari is suspected of cancer. The authorities of the Prison of Tabriz, however, are preventing her dispatch to a hospital for diagnosis and treatment.
Her family have been following up on her treatment and medical tests and accepted to pay for her treatment, but prison authorities have prevented her from doing her sonogram test and overlooked her visits to the prison dispensary requesting dispatch to civic medical centers.
Political prisoner Massoumeh Senobari is sentenced to 8 years in prison on the charge of having contact with the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran. She was viciously tortured under interrogation so much that she could no longer walk. The blows of whip to her legs and feet cracked her bone which has not healed, yet. Also, because of blows to her head, her vision became blurry. She became infected with the COVID-19 while in detention.
Political prisoner Fatemeh Mosanna remains deprived of urgent medical treatment for more than five months. Fatemeh Mosanna, 53, has been suffering from intestinal bleeding since mid-August and is not able to walk on her own.
A doctor from Tehran’s Taleghani Hospital, referred her to the forensics office to be examined and certified that she could not bear prison conditions and that she needed to be granted medical leave. Evin’s Assistant Prosecutor, Amin Vaziri, however, turned down the request and did not even allow her to be examined.
Fatemeh Mosanna and her husband, Hassan Sadeqi, and her two children were arrested on January 28, 2013 as they were holding a memorial ceremony for Mr. Sadeqi’s father who was a member of the opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), and had just passed away. The couple were later sentenced to 15 years in prison, each.
Political prisoner Raheleh Ahmadi is in dire health and on the point of paralysis.
“Despite growing concern of physicians over the possibility of her becoming paralyzed, no decision has been taken for starting medical treatment of this prisoner,” said lawyer Mostafa Nili about the situation of political prisoner Raheleh Ahmadi. She must be urgently granted medical leave, but nothing as such has happened, yet.”
Ms. Ahmadi is the mother of Saba Kord Afshari. She was arrested to bring pressure on her daughter. She is sentenced to 31 months in prison.
Detained nurse Bahareh Soleimani has been transferred to the women’s ward of Evin Prison after completion of her interrogations. Ms. Soleimani suffers from lung complications due to infection with COVID-19 since she had been attending to COVID patients since the outbreak. She needs urgent medical attendance and treatment.
Intelligence Ministry forces arrested Bahareh Soleimani on October 16, 2020, and detained her in solitary confinement in the IRGC Intelligence Ward 2A in Evin Prison. Bahareh Soleimani is 43 and resides in Tehran.
Horrible conditions in the women’s ward of Central Prison of Tabriz
Authorities of the Central Prison of Tabriz reportedly forced female inmates to wash all the blankets and carpets of their ward in the courtyard in the severely cold winter of Tabriz. The frail women were also forced to move their beds to the yard and paint them.
The women were compelled to do forced labor in Tabriz Prison while the weather was -1 degree Celsius during the day and -4 degree Celsius at nights. Many of the female inmates have become seriously ill because of the cold.
One of the inmates, Massoumeh Bahrami, 28, cut her wrist and attempted suicide under pressure of doing forced labor in the cold.
Female inmates are under tremendous pressure in the Prison of Tabriz are deprived of the minimum facilities and resources. The food quality is very bad and the items sold by the prison’s store are very expensive and low quality. These women are not allowed to have a kitchen and a stove to cook their own meal.