Iranian women call for action on gang-rapes

Iran’s women face a host of discriminatory laws ©Demotix

By a member of Amnesty International’s Iran team

As a human rights worker I am used to hearing shocking stories. However, a recent spate of gang-rapes and sexual assaults in Iran highlights increasing violence against women in a country where women’s rights are already under extreme pressure.

Most disturbing of all is the response of Iranian officials to a series of up to six separate, brutal attacks over the past few months.

One senior official even suggested that some of these crimes could have been avoided if the women targeted had adhered to Iran’s strict dress code, or hijab.

In one incident, in April 2011, a woman was gang-raped by at least 10 men in a field outside the village of Ghoojd in western Iran. The suspects were initially released. At one stage, the woman herself was reported to have been arrested.

Another incident occurred in May, when fourteen men allegedly raided a party in Khomeini Shahr, near Esfahan, locking the male party-goers in one room and raping the female guests.

Instead of speaking out forcefully against this crime, the Chief of the Police Detectives Bureau in Esfahan, Colonel Hossein Hosseinzadeh, appeared to condone it, saying :“If the women at the party had worn their hijab properly, they might not have been sexually assaulted”.

This is a classic case of blaming the victim. Rather than underlining the seriousness of this offence, the Colonel’s comments appear to be aimed at justifying the restrictive dress codes imposed on Iranian women, which violate their right to choose what they wear.

Iran’s women already face a host of discriminatory laws which limit their rights in marriage, divorce and child custody. In some cases, their testimony in court is already regarded as less than half that of a man’s.

Given these circumstances, such statements by Iranian officials risk perpetuating – and even escalating – the cycle of violence against them.

The six men who later abducted and gang-raped a woman in the city of Karaj on 22 July may have taken such comments as a signal that rape is acceptable under certain circumstances. And female rape victims may also take it as a signal that their complaints may not be taken seriously

The response of the Iranian authorities appears to be an attempt to discourage such attacks by the public execution of convicted rapists – even though rape is not one of the “most serious crimes” for which the death penalty may be applied under international law.

International human rights experts have also called on Iran not to execute people in public, highlighting the brutalising effect of such spectacles. Executing people publicly after speedy, unfair trials is unlikely to stop these attacks, and indeed may increase people’s acceptance of high levels of violence throughout society.

Meanwhile the authorities are continuing to persecute Iranian women who speak up against such violence and injustice.

Two women from the One Million Signatures Campaign, also known as the Campaign for Equality, a grass roots initiative which campaigns for the repeal of discriminatory laws against women, have recently been arrested.

One of them, Maryam Bahreman, was detained after speaking at the United Nations in New York in February. Although a regional prosecutor’s office has ordered her release, she remains in custody and there are fears that fresh charges may be brought against her.

The second, Maryam Bidgoli, has begun serving a six month sentence for collecting signatures for the Campaign’s petition. Amnesty regards both women as prisoners of conscience and is calling for their immediate and unconditional release.

These arrests are part of a wider crackdown against women’s rights activists. If their voices continue to be silenced, there will be fewer people to speak up against such brutal incidents as these gang-rapes.

Five hundred courageous Iranian women recently signed a statement denouncing state violence against women. They called for urgent action to address the recent spate of rapes, as well as rapes in prison, along with other violence against women. They affirmed their solidarity with women everywhere, and with global campaigns for ending sexual, physical, gender-based and police violence, such as those spearheaded by Amnesty International.

Let’s hope their words are heeded, rather than acting as a passport to prison for “propaganda against the system” as has happened in similar cases. If not, the many Iranian women who are victims of individual acts of violence will face a future with little confidence that the justice system can either protect them or provide redress for the harm done to them.

For more information, please see these Urgent Actions.

Posted in Uncategorized | 49 Comments

  1. Raine says:

    “If they had worn their hijabs correctly maybe they wouldn’t have been sexually assaulted.” Are you serious right now? So their not wearing their hijabs correctly is their consent? Wow. What a sexist statement. So cruel. :(

  2. Donna says:

    This type of thing is a happening in ALL muslim countries, so why just single out Iran? Oh yes more propaganda to justify a NWO inspired military campaign into Iran.

  3. jen says:

    i commend, and stand in solidarity with, the courageous women standing up for their right to be safe and to have justice.

  4. There are really monstrous things happening everywhere but it does seem especially bad in Iran. No sensible person is advocating invading Iran.

  5. Michael Wild says:

    “Women wouldn’t be raped if wearing a hijabs correctly.” As a simple matter of fact I will need a lot of evidence before accepting this as likely to be true. As an applied social scientist I have serious reservations about this senior police figure’s competence. Secondly even if true, this is a secondary matter. The main job of the police is to try and find and bring to justice those responsible. The public “education” can wait another day. At the very least he should never have put more suffering on the victims by public blaming. I am so glad my daughter didn’t grow up in Iran.

  6. Dieter Karg says:

    @ Donna: Amnesty does not single out Iran – look at our many publications! And we can’t help governments misusing our reports for military interventions (which in the case of Iran is highly unlikely, as Andrew pointed out). We can’t stay silent because of that possibility.
    About the senior police officer’s statement: it is of the same category as another statement that an Iranian judge made towards a detained blogger when he complained that he had been tortured in prison – the judge said that he “deserved it”.

  7. Alice says:

    I wish it were possible for ALL women to leave countries and societies that persecute women in those ways, to that degree. It would be even better if all women could leave all countries where they are discriminated against and mistreated. Then the guys who are left could have fun raping each other. Such attitudes DESERVE to have to live without the people they so mistreat.

  8. P Kelly says:

    A rapist takes from a woman many things that can never be returned or repaired. They deserve to be forgiven and then executed.

  9. Debi says:

    This sort of behavior simply defies belief, for those of us who live in what we call “civilized” cultures. “Blaming the victim” means nothing to these people because women are not considered victims; they are considered sub-humans, deserving of whatever treatment/abuse they receive. Nothing will change in these countries until the abused begin to stand up for themselves. I also believe the younger generation, those not indoctrinated in the complete subjugation of the female species, will also be an effective tool in bringing about change – both young men and women. Until then, be prepared to hear more horror stories like these.

  10. hajim says:

    You do not understand the beauty of Islam which means submission. As Allah decreed, females must submit to sexual satisfaction of the muslim jihad and this is the females reward – to satisfy Allahs holy men. When Islam conquers you foolish haters, all western females will be what you call raped – and what Allah calls Blessed.

  11. tamra says:

    I don’t care if they were walking down the street naked (maybe they have a mental illness). You have no right to touch another person. I swear I would start a campaign to poison every man there. It should be relatively easy as I’m sure the women do all the cooking. Just agree on a date and time!

  12. Mohammed Al-Quds says:

    The holy Quran is clear how these so-called “women” should dress and behave. Their crass violation of the wisdom of Mohammed, peace be upon him, is to blame for their predicaments and they should consider themselves fortunate that they their punishment is done.

  13. Jaime says:

    Fanatical religious belief and worship is founded in ignorance, for both Muslims and Christians alike. We have a leading Mormon cult leader raping 12 year old girls in Texas in the name of God, rape and public executions in the name of Allah. Is mankind ever going to move past the belief that the reason it rains is because some benevolent power is crying?

  14. Marjorie Miller says:

    If you cut rapists dicks off in public, I’m sure the problem would be solved, and rape would be very rare after that. I’m sure one public cutting would probably be all that was required. When women rule the world someday, that is what will happen. Because mothers solve problems. The problem began when we became a patriarchal society instead of a matriarchal society. Think of what would happen to a beehive, if the QueenBee was a male…

  15. Larsen Bjorn says:

    Why not organise a “Slut Walk” in Tehran to make your point? I guess Richard Dawkins was right in his e-mail in response to Rebecca Watson about the lift incident…

  16. Fred says:

    This is precisely what Islam encourages. After all, Mohammed himself was a known pedophile. With Islam’s founder being like that, is it any wonder?

  17. MArfus Shobeen says:

    Slaughter, inequity, intolerence and they leave and bring it all to Europe

  18. rachael says:

    Why are the men related to these men not hunting them down and beating them senseless? Is this what women can expect when there are muslims dominating the neighborhood? If they try that crap about putting American women in that goulish getup, they will get their asses shot.

  19. beverly says:

    This barbaric prejudice against women is exactly why no muslim should be permitted to hold a judicial office in the west! How would a rapist ever get convicted? How would a woman ever get a fair trial? Since it appears the men are too gutless to protect their women, perhaps the women need to gang up and tie one of the rapists down and divest him of his raping tool and send the message that they are not going to take it any more. The world can’t protect those who will not attempt to protect themselves. There are simply too many muslims and it is not our job to protect them.

  20. Think First says:

    Please take time to think first , think about who is reporting these matters and what is their Ulterior Motive, yet there is a Motive! Why do we not report on Allied Countries? Because We are Allies . Why must We(Americans) be so quick to Judge , Many of these Reporters have turned out to be Fraudulent, Many, Many Times! We are suppose to be one of the Smartest Countries in the World yet We allow anyone with a Media Outlet(I do not know Who Controls the Media!) to Influence what We think and believe! And We believe any Country that has Their own views and ideals that are not like ours especially if that Country has a natural resource , We think that Country is an Enemy . This is Childish School Yard Behavior and Thinking

  21. ducky says:

    foreign countries need to Growup and relize that all people are human and all should be treated as equals. to say that these women deserved to be raped. well just goes to show you how SICK some men are. and they arent really men.just disgusting humans

  22. Nathan Higgins says:

    “Women wouldn’t be raped if wearing a hijabs correctly.” I think that’s Arabic speak for
    ‘Barefoot and Pregnant’

    Anyway, I have seen many of of these hideous looking muslim ‘women’ in our Florida without the hijabs, and it’s no wonder that they are required to to wear them!

    Happy Arab Spring everyone :-)

  23. Sarah Smith says:

    “Women wouldn’t be raped if wearing a hijabs correctly.” Hijabs are not required indoors.

  24. william eason says:

    I understand why things are the way they are in Iran, but why was the woman arrested in New York City for speaking at the United Nations?

  25. Amapola says:

    This is utterly disgusting, what a religion to live under, is is appaling that rapes to women are sanctioned by the officials, what an outrage I feel sorry for our sisters to have to live under such a Society, this is a savage country that would condone such brutal acts against defenseless Women and Girls.

  26. RCL says:

    One must consider the legal atmosphere in a closed society such as Iran. Each of these law enforcement officers making the statements in defence of the aggressors is only restating the position of the higher authorities of the state!! Any other negative statements made by them leaning toward the victims would cost them their jobs and reputations!!

  27. IHateScams says:

    love tolerance understanding benevolence kindness respect tenderness – these words seem to be missing from isham

  28. Providence says:

    This is a human rights issue. This is happening to women worldwide. It is being used as a weapon against women to keep them in control. It has nothing to do with hijab. This thinking is primitive.

  29. silkroad says:

    I remember a friend once recounting a case of a woman being raped by an intruder who broke into her house by force. One of the questions at trial to try to prove that the victim was actually to blame was “What was she wearing?” Locked in her own house tucked into her own bed?! Who cares?! It’s completely irrelevant, even in a public place–NO attire warrants rape, but really–in your own paid, enclosed, private space? And here, were the men adhering to Islamic dress? Were they averting their eyes, as Islam instructs they do to avoid temptation. In Islam, it is not always the fault of women. But as Islam is (mis)interpreted by many who should know better, it is convenient to always blame women.

  30. Danny says:

    The only way to deal with these kind of regimes is to invade them and forcibly change the way they govern and respect human life. Can’t wait until the US finally puts the final nail in Ahmedinijad’s coffin!!!!

  31. John Q says:

    Personally Muslims are notorious for treating women like second class citizens and this doesn’t surprise me. As I am a military man currently in Iraq the injustice is unbelievable. The Taliban’s major concern was they were losing their women to western ways. The problem is the muslim faith thinks they are so pious and rightous and that everyone else is an infidel. The reality is they try and control people’s lives and allow no personal freedoms, the result is they are stuck with this religiously fanatic society. No wonder the Arab spring took place, many women don’t know what they’ve never had and accept it as a way of life. Hopefully things will change inshallah.

  32. charles says:

    If Iran is invaded because of its brutal and horrific persecution of its women it would truly be the most just war ever waged. So to the “no war at all costs” ignorants here…you have a lot of nerve!

  33. Cumberland Ave says:

    I don’t understand where these laws come from that allow such horrible, degrading and unfair treatment of women. The article quotes law enforcement officials, but what laws allow this? Do these laws result from reasoned, logical debate? Are they the laws of openly elected legislators who serve with the consent of the governed? What law dictates that women wear a hajib? Hmmm. The article never states exactly what law it is that states that a woman’s testimony in court is half as valid as a man’s. Hmmm. I wonder. Is there really such a law? Where might one find the text of such laws that oppress women and deny them equal protection under the law? If there is such a vile and oppressive law, surely it exists in written form somewhere. Maybe the author can dig a little deeper and explain where such laws originate and how the perpetrators justify the subjugation of a class of people.

  34. wisiteruy says:

    Only exterminating muslime, which worships rape.mutilation and horror – will unstifle the narrative!

  35. freeradical says:

    Keep inviting fictional ishmaelites to permanent residency in the west and we will get the master slave paradigm and despotic government. Democracy to a fictional ishmealite is a means to out populate and change the constitution. Western constitutions are based upon libertarian principles, which are prohibitions on government, while democracy, without libertarian principles, means little more than “TYRANNY BY THE MAJORITY”.
    Persians (Iranians) are not lineal descendants of ishmael. Persians are humiliated and defeated peoples who are/were force to be punks of pretentious arab cultural supremacy. Return to zoroastrianism and dump the ignorance and humiliation of the arab deception! Return to zoroastrianism and the prophet of the iranian peoples!

  36. jeff diggs says:

    People who live in Iran should realize that you live in Iran! Follow the rules of the country or exit the same.

  37. Joe says:

    What you are not taking into account is Sharia law. Under the Islamic tradition/religion these women are not people but are on earth for the pleasure of and to serve men. They have followed these beliefs for hundreds of years and as with any power base they don’t want to lose it. If they accept thay women are equals them Mohammed was wrong and the prophet could not be wrong. Military intervention? Not needed, Revolution and education are needed!

  38. rubicon1958 says:

    This is a classic example of “Calling the kettle black”. The Muslim women are required to wear clothing to avoid giving sexual temptation to men, yet there is NO responsibility of the men to controll their own cravings? Either the men are dogs for not being able to controll their cravings or their women are dogs for being the focus of male cravings. I want to know where the National Organization of Women (N.O.W.) are on this issue, where are the mothers and fathers of the victims, where are the HOLLYWOOD ELIETE? Where are MUSLEM CLERICS, WHERE IS THE SHERIA LAW? MAYBE IT IS TIME FOR THE MUSLEMS TO STOP TALKING OUT OF BOTH SIDES OF THEIR MOUTH AND DO WHAT IS RIGHT, AND PROTECT THE WOMEN OF FUTURE GENERATIONS. BUT MY REAL QUESTOIN IS “IS THIS RELIGION THE WORLD REALLY WANTS?

  39. Clarence York says:

    Atrocious and barbaric. I am even more strident concerning “Women wouldn’t be raped if wearing a hijabs correctly.” I don’t care if the women were wearing bra and panties, or less – NO means NO, and there is no excuse for any country or government that tolerates this criminal behavior. With this value system, how can the world allow these people to control atomic weapons?

  40. Cumberland Ave says:

    Amnesty International censored my comment? I don’t see it posted. I wonder why they would censor my comment. It didn’t have any profanity, but it might have had too much truth.

  41. freedom isn't free says:

    Iran was a lot more free than it is now-The culture has a problem and the women are attacked simply for being female. Until a real war takes place to wipe the culture of evil off the earth islam will continue to attack -starting at the vary beings that create them. I hope Americans will start ridding itself of the culture of evil that is so much against the freedom to live and enjoy life. Americans generally are happy compared to those cultures who don’t value living in a society as we have. Another flood would help to start getting rid of such evil.

  42. Kel Callan says:

    @Donna: you’re anger is aimed at the messenger? Do you really think it is more important that an agenda be served than that a woman be protected from a horrid and religion sanctioned rape? I wonder who’s side you are really on.

  43. caren says:

    Guess writer has distorted the truth to his/ner means.In The Khomeinishahr incident ,10 culprits have been arrested and 4-5 will be hanged as per the islamic law.If there are any incidents which u know are being overlooked,pls let us know.The rule of Law in this cases is clear and verdit is swift.Hanging by the rope.

  44. William Prestage says:

    In Islam, all family honor is tied into a womans virtue and she must protect that even with her life. Those women were out in public, free game. All good muslim men keep women where they belong, at home. Those women that were raped at the party were mixing with other men, even if their husband was also present, so they are also free game. If a woman reports a rape, the quran says that there must be 4 muslim male witnesses or 8 female witnesses because a female is worth one half of a male. If those numbers cannot be produced then she just admitted having sex outside of marriage with a group of males and can be stoned to death. When Muslim men say they respect and cherish their women, it is true. This respect applies to good muslim women who stay at home away from the eyes of other men. This respect does not apply to non-muslim women (Christian, Jew, Hindu)or women who choose to go outside and mix with men. Welcome to the world of ISLAMIC SHARIA LAW. Muslims are slowly bringing this law to Europe and America (creeping sharia). Muhammad said once you let the camel get his nose under the tent, pretty soon the camel will be in the tent.

  45. william prestage says:

    All the freedom loving people of the world should wake up and oppose every new Mosque built in Europe and the western world. A simple formula would be for every Mosque build in France or England with Saudi money then a church will be built in Saudi Arabia. This will stop them dead in their tracks because the building of churches is outlawed in Saudi Arabia.

  46. Jayeshdewana says:

    Muslim countries are the only countries in the world where Rape victims becomes the accused !

  47. Tarik Azzizi says:

    Islam CONDONES Violence against Women & ALL Non-Muslims !

  48. Neil Barton says:

    Disgusting that these poor women should have to live near these animals.When will Iran leave the Stone Age

  49. Destiny says:

    -tears- thats horrible

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