With the International Day to Eliminate Violence against Women and Girls approaching, we’re shedding light on the disturbing reality of violence against women and girls in Iran. It’s crucial to underscore that what women endure isn’t just sporadic; it’s state-sponsored and institutionalized violence.
Violence against women persists globally. How does it differ in Iran?
In Iran, the government not only fails to protect women from violence but actively endorses it through laws and actions. This endorsement has led to a drastic rise in violence against women and girls, including shocking instances of beheadings by husbands and fathers. Research indicates an alarming prevalence, with statistics suggesting a disturbing trend, often unreported due to lack of transparency.
In 2020, an Iranian expert, a sociologist, said Iran ranks first in the world as far as domestic violence against women is concerned. Another research said two out of every three Iranian women experience domestic violence in Iran. This figure is double the world average which is one in every three women are victims of domestic violence.
The clerical regime systematically promotes various forms of violence against women and girls, perpetuating physical, mental, economic, and political abuse. The lack of comprehensive prosecution further exacerbates this dire situation.
How is violence against women institutionalized within Iranian law?
Iranian laws, disturbingly, facilitate violence.
For instance, the legal age of marriage for girls is shockingly young, enabling early and forced marriages at 13 and even younger with the permission of the father or paternal grandfather.
The laws empower men within households, even allowing them to perpetrate violence without repercussions.
When a battered woman calls for help, the police is not allowed to enter the house. The judges are also instructed to return the battered woman or girl to their family, instead of providing her shelter and protection from the abusive father or husband.
A stark example is that of the 14-year-old girl Romina Ashrafi who had run away. She pleaded to the judge not to be returned home, but the judge did not heed her pleas, and she was subsequently beheaded by her father. Shockingly, before committing this heinous crime, her father had checked with a lawyer making sure that he would not be executed for killing his daughter. The law sanctions a father’s murder of his children, saying that he owns their blood.
Instances like Romina Ashrafi’s tragic story highlight how the law fails to protect women and girls, enabling heinous acts and disregarding their safety.
The law not only fails to protect but condones these atrocities, granting impunity to perpetrators. It’s critical to note the dire absence of women’s voices and rights in these matters.
One of the most distressing forms of state-sponsored and institutionalized violence against Iranian women arises during encounters with authorities enforcing Hijab laws.
The mandate of guidance patrols (Morality Police) is to apprehend women not adhering to proper hair covering and transport them to a detention center in downtown Tehran. Unfortunately, these arrests are never peaceful. Women often resist, and the patrols resort to violent means to take them away.
In the detention center, women are abused and mistreated to sign written commitments to cover their hair properly.
Before Mahsa Amini, a sick woman with a heart condition was taken to that detention center and died after release. Then came Mahsa’s tragic incident with Mahsa Amini, sparking a nationwide uproar lasting six months. Later, an elderly woman passed away at a tourist site in Kerman after harassment by Bassij agents in the area.
And most recently, in October, we saw the case of 17-year-old Armita Geravand. Like Mahsa, she suffered a brain hemorrhage and brain death due to trauma inflicted by Hijab patrols on a metro train.
We’ve delved into the societal aspects of state-sponsored and institutionalized violence against women and girls in Iran. However, the scope extends to the execution of women, rampant flogging, and stoning as punishments for exercising basic human rights.
When the regime is brutal towards ordinary women, I can only imagine the horrors faced by those actively opposing the regime through protests and leadership. The atrocities against female protesters last year were chilling. What more can you tell us about that?
Those opposing the regime face vicious violence. Last year, the regime callously killed young women on the streets, surrounding and fatally beating them with batons. Nika Shakarami, Sarina Esmailzadeh, Sarina Saedi, Mahak Hashemi, Ghazaleh Qassemi, Sadaf Movahhed—just a few among many who met this fate.
Kidnappings and abductions of female protesters, even doctors aiding them, resulted in rape and torturous deaths. Dr. Ayda Rostami’s family revealed her horrifying injuries—her eye enucleated, nose and cheek bones smashed.
It’s meant to instill fear and deter protests, rather than addressing the public’s grievances. Repression and economic crises persist, fueling discontent, yet these brutal methods are the regime’s response.
They knowingly pay the price for freedom. Like the previous generation who resisted the regime’s repression in the 1980s. Thousands of women from the opposition MEK and other groups were killed under torture or executed by firing squads. From 10 and 13 years olds to elderly mothers, and pregnant women. This ruthless history persists in today’s methods of torture, echoing the regime’s brutal past, impacting Iran’s history and fostering a spirit of resistance among the younger generations.