Amnesty International’s latest report, released on December 6, 2023, sheds light on the grim realities faced by Iranian regime opponents and detainees amid the 2022 protests. The organization highlighted that security forces employed extensive sexual violence to intimidate and coerce protesters and dissenters.
Detailing the disturbing experiences of 45 survivors from the nationwide protests, the report narrates accounts of 26 men, 12 women, and seven children who fell victim to rape, gang rape, and various forms of sexual violence perpetrated by intelligence and security forces.
The report explicitly identifies the culprits as agents from the Revolutionary Guards, the paramilitary Basij force, the Ministry of Intelligence, and branches of the police, including the Public Security Police, the Investigation Unit, and the Special Forces.
Describing appalling scenarios, the report reveals the use of wooden and metal batons, glass bottles, hosepipes, and even perpetrators’ sexual organs and fingers to inflict sexual violence. These acts occurred in detention facilities, police vehicles, and repurposed locations like schools or residential buildings.
Moreover, the report notes that sexual violence was often accompanied by torture tactics such as beatings, electric shocks, denial of food and water, and atrocious detention conditions. Survivors were routinely denied medical care, exacerbating their physical and psychological trauma.
Distressingly, most survivors refrained from filing complaints, fearing further harm, and lacking trust in the judiciary, seen as an instrument of repression rather than justice.
Amnesty International also highlighted a leaked document dated October 13, 2022, revealing the authorities’ cover-up of rape complaints against Revolutionary Guards agents. The document suggested classifying the case as “completely secret” and gradually closing it over time.
Agnés Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary-General, condemned these actions. “Our research exposes how intelligence and security agents in Iran used rape and other sexual violence to torture, punish and inflict lasting physical and psychological damage on protesters, including children as young as 12. The harrowing testimonies we collected point to a wider pattern in the use of sexual violence as a key weapon in the Iranian authorities’ armory of repression of the protests and suppression of dissent to cling to power at all costs.”
“Without political will and fundamental constitutional and legal reforms, structural barriers will continue to plague Iran’s justice system, which has time and again exposed its shameful inability and unwillingness to effectively investigate crimes under international law,” Callamard added.
Agnés Callamard addressed free countries saying, “We urge states to initiate criminal investigations in their own countries against suspected perpetrators under the principle of universal jurisdiction, with a view to issuing international arrest warrants.”