Rouhani 8 Years On: The Situation of Women’s Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Posted on: March 5th, 2021

HRANA – On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Human Rights Activists in Iran highlights the situation of women’s rights in Iran during the 8 year term of President Hassan Rouhani. The following report includes an 8-year statistical overview of the most pressing human rights issues women are facing in the country. The report also introduces the brave women’s rights activists that are currently imprisoned or are facing imprisonment.

Women and girls in the Islamic Republic of Iran face widespread and systematic discrimination in areas touching nearly all corners of their lives. Discrimination against women is abundantly present in matters of family law, criminal law, education, employment, and social and cultural life. However, in the face of state-sanctioned discrimination, women in Iran are leading the charge, playing a primary role in defending their rights, standing up and demanding change; unfortunately, this is not without consequence.

Although many were hopeful, 8 years on, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has done little to improve the lives of women in Iran. In fact, from August 2013 to March 2021, there have been 72 cases of self-immolation, 3,048 suicides, 20 claims of workplace discrimination, 2 reported cases of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), 553 honor killings, 33,210 child marriages (girls under the age of 18), and 460 reported acid attacks against women. On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2021, Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI) highlights some of the most pressing women’s rights issues today and throughout the 8-year Rouhani presidency, as well as the 22 Iranian women’s rights activists targeted over the past 8 years, who have faced harassment, torture, ill-treatment, arrest and arbitrary imprisonment for speaking out against the instruments of oppression working against them every day.

 

International Framework

 

The situation of women’s rights in Iran falls short of nearly all international human rights standards and obligations. While Iran is not a State party to The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), they remain obligated as a State party to other international mechanisms which protect against gender inequality and discrimination, including: The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Despite these obligations, women and girls remain unequal in both law and practice and according to the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Gender Gap Report, Iran ranked 148 out of 153 countries, only coming in ahead of The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, Pakistan, Iraq, and Yemen.

 

Women’s Rights in Iran

 

Compulsory Veiling

Amidst wider social upheaval, compulsory veiling is one of the more well-known women’s rights issues in Iran. The Human Rights Council has stated that any laws regulating what women wear ‘violate [a] State’s obligation under the ICCPR’. Yet, in both law and practice women who choose not to abide by compulsory veiling laws face unrelenting punishment. Under law, women can be fined up to 500,000 rials and/or face up to 2 months in prison. In practice however, they are increasingly charged with crimes such as ‘moral corruption on Earth’, a charge which carries up to 10 years imprisonment. Imprisonment in any regard relating to compulsory garments is a violation of article 9 of the ICCPR.

Cultural Rights

 Article 15 of the ICESCR recognizes the ‘right of everyone to take part in cultural life’. Nonetheless, Iranian women are banned from both singing and dancing in public and although it is not written into the law it is customary that women are also prohibited from attending sporting events. While there have been few occurrences which allow for women’s access to sporting events, access remains segregated and largely unequal.  From 2013 to 2021, at least 147 women were denied entry to sports stadiums. Additionally, 4 female athletes were deprived of traveling outside of the country to compete due to unequal and discriminatory marriage and family laws. The Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights has stated that ensuring the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of cultural rights is a mandatory and immediate obligation of State parties (general comment No.16 (2005), para. 16).

Marriage and Family

Inconsistent with obligations under the ICCPR, Iranian women face discrimination in almost all aspects of family life including in marriage, divorce, custody, and guardianship. The ICCPR also protects the freedom of movement, yet women in Iran face widespread limitations. While women under the age of 40 require the permission of their husbands to travel outside of the country, married women require permission from their husbands; in fact, married women are not permitted to apply for a passport without their husbands’ prior approval—they’ve also no say in their place of residence.

Under Iranian law women are viewed as subordinates to both their spouses and male family members. This affects a woman’s right to obtain her desired employment, as husbands have the right to prevent their wives from taking up certain employment should they deem it inappropriate (against “family values”). Additionally, wives are required, under law, to provide for a husband’s sexual needs; if they should not, a husband in all cases has the exclusive right to a divorce, without question, while women face unconscionable hurdles in the same respect. Should a divorce occur, the father becomes the lawful guardian of a child; in the case of a fathers passing, guardianship is passed to the paternal grandfather as stated in Iranian Civil Code.  The Human Rights Council has stated that inequality in marriage is a violation of Article 23.4 of the ICCPR. (HRC general comment no.  28) including in the dissolution of such and with regard to the issue of custody.

 The Right to Education

 According to the CEO of the Society for Protecting the Rights of the Child (SPRC), approximately 1 million children living in underdeveloped and impoverished neighborhoods of Iran are deprived of receiving an education. In addition to being left out of school for societal reasons such as poverty, the lack of a birth certificate and the need to work in lieu of attending school are among contributing factors. Girls, in certain cases, are deliberately deprived of receiving an education. From 2013 to 2021, 4,142 female students were reportedly deprived of receiving an education due to early marriages, in certain cases as early as age 9, as well as a lack of permission from their male guardians to attend school. These numbers fly in the face of international standards as well as obligations under the CRC.

 

Women’s Rights Activists 

 

An overview

 Between August 3, 2013, and March 2, 2021, a total of 84 women’s rights activists were arrested, 8 of whom were men. Additionally, 22 were sentenced to a total of 1,627 months of imprisonment, 8,800,000 Tomans in fines, and 148 floggings. The courts in this regard, carry out sentencing in ways that fail to meet international fair trial standards.

The charges placed upon them by the judicial authorities include:

➡️ 11 charges of “assembly and collusion against the national security”

➡️ 12 Charges of “propaganda against the regime”

➡️ 6 charges of “Performing the ‘Haram’ (Forbidden) act of not wearing headscarf”

➡️ 3 charges of “inciting moral corruption through unveiling”

➡️ 3 charges of “inciting and providing the means for moral corruption”

➡️ 1 charge of “publishing vulgar content on the internet and being present in public without headscarf”

➡️ 1 charge of “spreading moral corruption through unveiling and taking a walk without headscarf”

➡️ 2 charges of “Cooperating with the Hostile Government of United States against the Islamic Republic in the field of family and women’s rights”

➡️ 1 charge of “disrupting public order, on the basis of participating in protest following the death of Farinaz Khosravani”

➡️ 1 charge of “publishing false information online with the aim of disturbing the public mind”

➡️ 1 charge of “disturbing public peace and order”

➡️ 1 charge of “assembly and collusion against national security through cooperation with dissident media.”

➡️ 1 charge of “Insulting Sanctities”

➡️ 1 charge of “being an effective member of the unlawful group the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), LEGAM (Step by Step to Abolition Death Penalty) and the National Peace Council”

 

Image 1. A Breakdown of the Charges Placed Upon Iranian Women’s Rights Activists Image 1. A Breakdown of the Charges Placed Upon Iranian Women’s Rights Activists from 2013-2021 from 2013-2021
Click on the image to enlarge the chart

 

Imprisoned Women’s Rights Activists

Yasaman Ariyani and Monireh Arabshahi (mother and daughter)

Latest Arrest Dates:

Yasaman Ariyani: 10 April 2019

Monireh Arabshahi: 11 April 2019

Charges and Sentence:

“Gathering and collusion against national security”

“Propaganda against the regime”

“Inciting and providing the means for moral corruption”

Both mother and daughter were Initially sentenced to 16 years imprisonment. Upon appeal, the sentence was reduced to 9 years and 7 months each. Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code allows for 5 years and 6 months imprisonment in this regard.

Condition: Doctors have indicated that Monire Arabshahi requires a lumbar disc surgery and thyroid biopsy; she has been denied access to medical care.

Prison: After arrest held at Gharchak Prison of Karaj on 13 August 2019 both women were transferred to Evin prisons Female’s Ward. On 21 October 2020 they were transferred to Kachoui of Karaj.

Yasmin Ariyani was transferred to solitary cell on Friday 13 November 2020, following a positive COVID-19 test.

 

Saba Kordafshari and Raheleh Ahmadi (mother and daughter) 

Latest Arrest Dates:

Saba Kordafshari: 1 June 2019

Raheleh Ahmadi: 10 July 2019

Charges and Sentence:

Saba Kordafshari:

“spreading moral corruption through unveiling and taking a walk without headscarf”

“Propaganda against the Regime”

“Gathering and colluding against national security”

Raheleh Ahmadi:

“assembly and collusion against national security through cooperation with dissident media”

“propaganda against the regime”

“inciting moral corruption through unveiling and posting it online” (acquitted)

Saba Kordafshari: – sentenced to a total of 24 years of imprisonment for the above-mentioned charges

Raheleh Ahmadi – sentenced to a total of 4 years and 2 months for the above-mentioned charges

Condition: On 24 December 2020, Ms. Ahmadi was transferred to a hospital to receive an MRI test, which indicated her spinal cord had been damaged due to stress and shock of the news that her daughter (Saba Kordafshari) was exiled to Gharchak prison of Varamin.

Prison: On Tuesday 26 January 2021 Saba Kordafshari was transferred from ward 8 of Gharchak Prison of Varamin to Ward 6, where she was beaten. She is currently housed alongside “violent crimes” prisoners.

 

Mojgan Keshavarz

Civil rights activists opposing compulsory veiling

Latest Arrest: Thursday 25 April 2019. She was arrested at her home.

Charges and Sentence:

Sentenced by Branch 54 of the Appeals Court of Tehran

“Assembly and collusion against national security” 3 years and 6 months imprisonment

“Propaganda against the regime” 7 months imprisonment.

“inciting and providing the means for moral corruption” 5 years and 6 months imprisonment

“insulting the sanctities” received 3 years imprisonment.

Prison: On Saturday December 5th, 2020 she was transferred from the Women’s Political Prisoners Ward of Evin Prison to Gharchak Prison of Varamin.

 

Alieh Motalebzadeh

Photographer and women’s rights activist

Arrest and Prison: Ms. Motalebzadeh was initially arrested on November 26th, 2016 through a phone call by the intelligence ministry. She was interrogated at Ward 209 of Evin Prison (under the control of the intelligence ministry) she was temporarily released on bail of 300 million Toman on December 19, 2016. On October 11th, 2020 she was arrested at the Sentence Execution Unit of Evin Prison to begin serving her sentence.

Charges:

“Gathering and collusion against national security”

“propaganda against the regime”.

Sentence: Tried at the Revolutionary Court of Tehran in 2017 and sentenced to 3 years imprisonment. The sentence was upheld by Branch 36 of the Appeals Court of Tehran headed by Judge Seyed Ahmad Zargar.

 

Nasrin Sotoudeh

Human rights activists and lawyer

Latest arrest: June 13, 2018 at her home

Trial: Tried on December 30th, 2018, in absentia, by Branch 28 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court

Charges:

“gathering and collusion against national security”

“Propaganda against the regime”

“inciting and providing the means for moral corruption”

“appearing at an interrogation branch without proper Islamic Hijab”

“disturbing public peace and order”

“publishing false information with the aim of disturbing public opinion”

being an effective member of the unlawful group the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), LEGAM (Step by Step to Abolition Death Penalty) and the National Peace Council”

Sentence: 33 years imprisonment and 148 floggings

Condition:

– On Tuesday August 11, 2020, through a letter demanding the release of political prisoners Ms. Sotoudeh announced she was going on hunger strike.

– On September 19, 2020, following a heart condition she was transferred from Evin Prison to CCU units at Taleghani Hospital of Tehran.

– On Wednesday September 23rd, she returned to Evin Prison from the hospital.

Mr. Khandan (Ms. Sotoudeh’s husband) has stated that Ms. Sotoudeh did not receive the proper medical care during this time.

– On September 25th Ms. Sotoudeh ended her hunger strike.

* she was transferred from Evin Prison to Gharchak Prison of Varamin on October 20th, 2020

Women’s rights activists at risk of imprisonment  

  1. cases awaiting review

Nahid Shaghaghi, Akram Nasirian, Maryam Mohammadi, and Asrin Darkaleh

Arrests

Akram Nasirian: April 29, 2019

Nahid Shaghayeghi: May 15, 2019

Maryam Mohammadi: July 8, 2019

Asrin Darkaleh: July 28, 2019

All four women were summoned to prison to begin serving their sentence on March 14, 2020

Charges and Sentence: Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran, headed by Judge Iman Afshari, sentenced each woman to 4 years and 2 months imprisonment.

“Gathering and Collusion against national security” each received 3 years imprisonment

“Propaganda against the Regime” each received 6 months imprisonment.

“Performing ‘Haram’ (Forbidden) act of not wearing headscarf” each received 8 months imprisonment.

 

  1. cases where the initial verdict has been issued

 

Banafsheh Jamali

Women’s rights activist

Arrest: In 2017 Ms. Jamali was arrested along with others during the 8th March, International Women’s Day Rally in Tehran, she was released sometime after the arrest.

Charges: “Propaganda against the Regime”

Sentence: 1 year of imprisonment, 4 million Toman fine

Banned from using smart electrical devices (smartphones)

Mandatory attendance at MAVA Counselling in Qom City

* the imprisonment has been suspended for 5 years

 

  1. cases awaiting sentence to be executed

Raha (Raheleh) Askari-Zadeh

Journalist, photographer, and women’s rights activist

Arrest: Raha was arrested on November 29th, 2018, at the Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKIA) while attempting to depart.

Charges: “assembly and collusion against the national security”

Sentence: Initially issued by the Revolutionary Court of Tehran and later upheld by the Appeals Court. 2 years imprisonment

2-year ban from exiting the country

2-year ban from Internet activities

2-year ban from activity in political or journalist groups

 

Najme Vahedi and Hoda Amid

Women’s rights activists

Arrest: On September 1, 2018, both women were arrested separately at their homes.

Charges: “Cooperating with the hostile government of United States against the Islamic Republic in the field of family and women’s rights”

Sentence: Hoda Amid: 8 years imprisonment

2-year ban from joining political parties and groups

2-year ban from being active on the Internet, social media, and in the press

2-year ban from exiting the country

2-year ban from working as a lawyer

Najmeh Vahedi:7 years imprisonment

2-year ban from joining political parties and groups

2-year ban from being active on the internet, social media, and in the press

2-year ban from exiting the country

 

For media inquiries please contact Senior Advocacy Coordinator, Skylar Thompson at [email protected]

 

Women’s Rights Activist Najmeh Vahedi Released On Bail

Posted on: November 7th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- On November 6, 2018, women’s rights activist and sociology graduate Najmeh Vahedi, who was arrested in her home by security forces on September 1st, was released on bail pending trial.

Vahedi was one of many snared in the judiciary’s recently-revived sanctions on women’s rights activists. With her comrade Hoda Amid, Vahedi had reportedly held educational training workshops for women inquiring about their rights in marriage contracts.

Human Rights Watch issued a statement on September 5th of this year asking Iranian authorities to stop the repression of human rights defenders like Amid and Vahedi and to immediately release those who are in custody for peaceful expressions of dissent. Later that month, 750 civil rights activists inside and outside Iran issued a statement condemning the persecution of women’s rights defenders, demanding their immediate and unconditional release.

Last week, the voice of Amnesty International joined the outcry against the civil crackdowns, demanding that affected prisoners be immediately released and that defendants not be limited to a list of regime-designated attorneys.

Women’s Rights Activist Hoda Amid Released on Bail

Posted on: November 5th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Lawyer and women’s rights activist Hoda Amid was released on bail on the evening of Sunday, November 4th after being incarcerated for 65 days.

On September 29th, 750 civil rights activists inside and outside Iran issued a statement condemning the persecution of women’s rights defenders, including Amid, demanding their immediate and unconditional release.

Iran: An Overview of Human Rights Abuses September – October 2018

Posted on: October 29th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – The following is an overview of human rights violations in Iran between September 23rd and October 22, 2018, per information compiled and verified by the Statistics, Publications, and Achievements Division of Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI).

Domestic restrictions in Iran on independent human rights reporting make it difficult to capture the full extent of these issues on the ground. The following overview draws on the work of HRANA reporters, as well as a network of independent and verifiable sources, including other human rights associations operating outside Iran’s borders.

Summary

Human rights violations continued all across the country over the past month, and included, but were not limited to: executions, child abuse, mass arrests, violation of prisoners’ rights, violation of freedom of expression, labor abuses, and unchecked environmental pollution.

Death Penalty

Capital punishment remains the most egregious violation of human rights in Iran. On October 10th — the World Day against the Death Penalty — the Center of Statistics at HRAI published its annual report to sensitize the public about the situation of the death penalty in Iran. The report provides statistics about executions carried out in this country between October 10, 2017, and October 9, 2018.

More than 25 citizens, including a juvenile offender, were executed in the last month (between September 23rd and October 22, 2018). More than 20 individuals, including a juvenile offender, were sentenced to death. Four people were executed in public.

HRANA was able to identify or gather details about death row prisoners, including a former member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Arsalan Khodkam, the ex-spouse of Leila Tajik, Hedayat Abdollahpour and three individuals convicted of financial crimes. New details on the executions of Zanyar Moradi, Loghman Moradi, and Ramin Hossein Panahi were also reported during this period.

Freedom of Thought and Expression

Freedoms of thought and expression were also widely restricted over the past 30 days.

Arrests: Arrestees in this category included a Shiraz city council member, Ahmad Alinejad and his wife, at least 20 residents of Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad province, writer and Mashad resident Abbas Vahedian, Zahra Majd in Isfahan, and six individuals involved in the Freedom Movement of Iran, arrested in Nain (near Isfahan).

Convictions: Leila Mir-Ghaffari was sentenced to 2 years in prison, Ejlal Ghavami to 8 months, Hassan Abbasi to 35 months (five 7-months prison terms), an Arak resident to 1 year and 30 lashings, Hamidreza Amini to 11 years. Women who protested this past August were sentenced from 6 months to 1 year in prison, Mohammad Mahdavifar was sentenced to 4 years and 6 months, a dual-nationality defendant faces 8 years and 6 months in prison, Soheil Arabi faces 3 years in prison, 3 years in exile, and a fine; the prison sentence of Abdolreza Ghanbari was increased to 15 years, Alireza Moeinian was sentenced to 8 months in prison; a new 6-month sentence extended the prison term of Saeed Shirzad through 2020; six Arak residents arrested amid the January protests were collectively sentenced to a total of 6 years in prison and 444 lashings, and a group of political activists in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad province were sentenced to exile and prison terms ranging from 8 to 18 years.

Eleven civil activists, including Mohammad Najafi, Ali Bagheri, and Abbas Safari were sentenced to 3 years in prison and 74 lashings. Behzad Ali Bakhshi, Mohammad Yaghoubi, Yousef Shirilard, Neda Yousefi, Davoud Rahimi, Massoud Ajlou and Mohammad Torabi were sentenced to 1 year in prison and 74 lashings, suspended over five years. Kian Sadeghi faces 3 years in prison and 74 lashings, suspended over five years. Morteza Nazari was sentenced to a total of 13 years in prison, 2 years of exile, and a fine; Zahra Zare Seraji, on the same convictions, to 8 years in prison and a fine. Their co-defendants Ali Kabirmehr and Ali Bazazadeh were both sentenced to 13 years in prison and exile.

Summons: Hamid Farrokhnezhad, Parastoo Salehi, a number of reformist political activists, Tehran city council member Kazem Imanzadeh, Hossein Ahmadi Niaz, and Mohammad Najafi were all summoned by courts and the Ministry of Intelligence.

Censorship: The weekly magazines “Nabze Bazaar” and “Paytakht Kohan,” as well as the website “EntekhabKhabar,” were convicted in press court. Courts also issued indictments for the Chief Executive Officers of “Shargh” and “Shahrvand” newspapers for their reporting on sexual tourism. The National Front of Iran was prevented from holding its Central Council meeting in Tehran, a journalist was beaten by Qazvin municipal agents, and a Kurdish student was barred from education, presumably for his political affiliations.

Prisoners’ Rights
Prisoners are rarely protected from cruel and unusual punishments, and their rights to proper nutrition, hygiene, and medical treatment are systematically violated. A few of these victims are detailed below by category of violation.

Raids and beatings: Prison agents punched Arash Sadeghi on his cancer surgery site; Urmia prison authorities attacked political prisoners and injured them severely, inciting them to hunger strike by the dozens; another Urmia prisoner was assaulted; a prisoner was beaten and injured by Rajai Shahr Prison personnel; Bandar Abbas Prison authorities broke an inmate’s fingers; an Urmia prisoner suffered a TBI after a beating by authorities; and prisoners were forcefully undressed and beaten in Zahedan Prison.

Withholding of medical treatment: A prisoner died after being denied medical care in Zahedan Prison. Farhad Meysami, Arash Sadeghi, and a prisoner in Sanandaj were also denied medical treatment.

Going without: Dozens of Gachsaran prisoners launched protests and hunger strikes in opposition to prison conditions. Six Gonabadi Dervish prisoners continued in an ongoing hunger strike. Reza Sigarchi, also in an act of protest, refused food and medicine in Great Tehran Penitentiary, while 8 Gonabadi Dervishes at the same penitentiary and 8 Baha’i prisoners of Karaj disappeared off of the administrative radar for 30 days. Houshmand Alipour was denied access to an attorney. Three prisoners in the Women’s Ward of Evin Prison were blocked from receiving visits, and the fate of sequestered labor activist and Sanandaj resident Zanyar Dabbaghian was still unknown.

Three prisoners attempted suicide in Zahedan, Urmia, and Saravan prisons. Local sources consistently impute prisoner suicides and suicide attempts to the violence and oppression of prison life.

Religious and Ethnic Minorities

Religious and ethnic minorities remained under threat and consistent judicial pressures this past month.

Baha’is: Eight Baha’i citizens were arrested in Baharestan (near Isfahan), four were arrested in Karaj, one of whom had his business forcibly shut down, and three were arrested in Shiraz.
[Some of these arrests reflect coordinated or group arrests, and linked articles will reflect that information overlap].
A Baha’i resident of Yazd who had been blocked from pursuing education was fired from work for their faith, and the parents of a Baha’i prisoner were temporarily detained following a search of the prisoner’s home.

Sunnis: Five Sunni scholars were sequestered for hours in the Zahedan-Khash road patrol office. Three Baluchi citizens, who are scholars of the Ghalamouei seminary, were arrested in Sirik County (southern Iran). Sunni scholars expressed outcry over the public statements of a soccer player they alleged to be disparaging of Sunni sanctities.

Six members of the Yamani Religious Group in Izeh County were also arrested, presumably for their beliefs.

Ethnic minorities: Arab citizens were arrested, and are still being arrested en masse in wake of the Ahvaz Parade Attack. HRANA is still in the process of confirming the identifies of the arrestees, which according to local reports number into the hundreds. Other arrests suspected to be ethnically discriminatory include Nasim Sadeghi, Mohammad Abdolmohammad-Zadeh, Mojtaba Parvin, Ebrahim Divazi, as well as residents of Ilam, Ahvaz, Marivan, Urmia, Sanandaj, Kermanshah, Saqqez, Pevah, Oshnavieh, and Sardasht.

News emerged on the convictions of Abbas Lasani, Kiumars Eslami, Eghbal Ahmadpour, Keyvan Olyali, Hossein Ali Mohammadi Alvar, as well as defendants in Sanandaj, Urmia, Kamyaran, and two detainees of the Afrin battles in Syria. Turkic activist Javad Ahmadi Yekanli was summoned by county security police in the city of Khoy.

Children’s Rights

Children are among the most vulnerable to human rights abuses in Iran. Over the past month, four wrongful child deaths were reported in the cities of Tehran, Falavarjan (Isfahan Province), Qaem Shahr (Mazandaran province) and (Isfahan Province).

The national director of Iran’s social emergency hotline said that 30% of reports called into the center are flagging some form of “domestic violence,” 30% of which turn out to be child abuse cases. Of this 30%, 50% were related to educational negligence, 30% to physical abuse, 15% to psychological abuse, and 4% to sexual abuse of children.

Maryam Sedighi, deputy director of the social welfare department of Alborz Province, said that 12% of “123” social emergency calls made in Alborz — i.e. an average of 40 calls per month — are child abuse reports.

Reports indicate the rape of a young girl by her father in Tehran; a boxing coach accused of raping his teenage student; a father pouring boiling water over his 7-year-old daughter in Genaveh, Bushehr Province; and a teacher using corporal punishment on a pupil in Kazeroon, Fars Province.

Three juvenile suicides were also reported: one student in Rigan County, Kerman Province, and two teenage girls, aged 14 and 16, in the cities of Abadan and Sanandaj.

The Iranian education system allocates fewer and fewer resources to its pupils, and educational facilities across the country — particularly in rural or underprivileged areas — can be found in varying states of wear and disrepair. One pupil in Razan, Hamadan province was injured in the chest, neck, and shoulders when he was caught in falling debris of a school wall that suddenly collapsed. The Razan director of education said that he is currently stable, but will require surgery.

Elementary-school student Donya Veisi of Garmash village, Kurdistan Province, fell victim to her own school’s disrepair when one of the walls surrounding her school yard collapsed, killing her. Later — amid allegations that Donya had in fact been raped and killed — the Kurdistan Prosecutor verbally engaged to investigate the matter.

Women

The question of women’s rights at sporting events gained heightened public attention this past month when, under pressure from FIFA to permit their entry into stadiums, a select number of Iranian women (most of them family members of players and federation employees) were finally allowed to witness a kickoff in person (Iran vs. Bolivia). Authorities’ exclusive selection criteria were highly criticized.

Meanwhile, Shiraz-based activist Maryam Azad was arrested by security forces at a Tehran Airport as she was leaving the country for Turkey.

The managing director of the office of forensic medicine in Kohkiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad province indicated that, of the 429 domestic violence crimes recorded in his office over the past 6 months, 404 were incidents of violence by husbands against their wives.

Additional cases of violence against women included a man’s murder of his ex-wife when he failed to meet “mehrieh” obligations [a type of alimony settlement], and the circumstances surrounding one woman’s decision to set herself on fire in Mashad.

Two women, long hounded by the judiciary for participating in a rally on International Women’s Day, were recently acquitted of their charges.

Laborers and Guilds

This past month was rythmed by strikes, sit-ins, and rallies organized by guilds and employees across sectors who demanded more secure working conditions.

Commercial Transport: This past month, truck drivers in Iran went on a nationwide strike for the third time [in 12 months]. Over the course of their 20-day strike, at least 261 striking drivers in 19 different provinces were arrested and threatened with heavy sentences, including the death penalty. Strikers’ demands did make significant headway: after years of guild activism, the High Council of Transportation Coordination approved a new freight transport measurement rate known as the tonne-kilometre (tkm) method, which was among the most pressing demands of truck drivers. Despite this partial victory, the fates of the 261 detained protesters are still unknown.

Education: Six Educator-Activists who participated in demonstrations May 10th were sentenced to 9 months in prison and 74 lashings. Also reported was the conviction of schoolteacher and University of Tehran student Ruhollah Mardani, who was arrested earlier this year in connection to nationwide protests. Five teachers were summoned by the Bureau of Public Places in Saqqez.

Following a call to strike by the Coordinating Council of Teachers Syndicates in Iran (CCTSI), Iranian teachers staged sit-ins [on October 14th and 15th] to demand more liveable salaries and justice for their persecuted colleagues. Strike activity was recorded across the provinces of Kerman, Lorestan, Khuzestan, Kermanshah, Isfahan, Kurdistan, Alborz, Hamadan, Fars, Zanjan, Qom, Mazandaran, Tehran, North Khorasan, Ilam, East and West Azerbaijan, Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad, Bushehr, Gilan and Hormozgan.

Merchants: Merchants went on strike against the many interconnected symptoms of Iran’s current recession, including unstable exchange rates, inflation, rising prices, and unemployment. Merchant strikes went on for two consecutive days in the cities of Karaj, Shahreza, Shahriar, Shiraz, Kermanshah, Tabriz and Sarab.

Two street vendors were reportedly beaten by municipal agents in Qazvin and Gorgan.

Health and Environment:

Five environmental activists arrested 8 months ago have been indicted with charges of “corruption on earth,” which can carry the death penalty.

Intelligence agents halted a group of environmental journalists, including Javad Heydarian, before they could board a flight to Germany for work. Their passports were confiscated.

Public concern over pollution and waste issues is ballooning, and [many citizens are critical of the government’s inaction in face of myriad threats to the public health].

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Iranian Ministry of the Interior, Iranians surpass the worldwide average of daily waste production (300 grams) by a whopping 400 grams every day.

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency of Miandoab (West Azerbaijan Province) announced that contamination of the Zarrinehroud River from the city’s sugar factory, coupled with poor ecological management of the river and its dam system, has caused thousands of fish to die in the river.

High levels of air pollution were reported this month in the cities of Kerman, Mahshahr, Ramshir, Rigan, and the provinces of Sistan and Baluchestan and Kerman.

Cultural Rights and Censorship

A number of photographers from Shiraz faced persecution for their instagram activity this month [which was cited as “improper”].

Two cultural directors from Sistan and Baluchestan province were summoned to the Intelligence office for attempting to host a peaceful community celebration.

Pending content modifications and the resolution of charges against the Home Video Entertainment Network, the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance banned distribution of the network’s TV series “13 Shomali” (Northern 13), which previously aired on Saturdays.

Military and Law-Enforcement Power Abuses

Several citizens were killed as a result of power abuses and negligence by security forces this past month.

Police car chases, inappropriate shootings by border authorities, and authorities’ failure to warn civilians of road barriers led to 2 civilian injuries and 5 civilian deaths in Iranshahr (Sistan and Baluchestan Province), Jask (Hormozgan Province) and Azadshahr (Golestan Province) and Razavi Khorasan.

Security forces reportedly assaulted fuel vendors in Saravan (Sistan and Baluchestan Province).

More than a dozen “Kulbars” [laborers who make their living carrying goods across border areas] were wounded and killed across the country, namely in Sardasht (West Azerbaijan Province), Piranshahr (West Azarbaijan Province), Urmia (West Azerbaijan Province) Nowsud (Kermanshah Province), Marivan and Baneh (Kurdistan Province) and Ilam (Ilam province).

A prisoner in Urmia was sentenced to hand amputation, and a robbery convict was dealt 74 lashes in public in the Zeberkhan Rural District (Nishapur County, Razavi Khorasan Province).

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The above-cited reports are only a few examples of dismally more widespread trends. Their mention in this overview by no means implies their significance over those incidents which went unreported, due to tight restrictions on investigative journalists on the ground.

Among available reports of human rights abuses, however, some are more oft-cited due to their sensitive nature or predominating presence in public opinion. It bears mention that all human rights abuses are worthy of the news coverage and social media activism that has come to the aid of so relatively few. Bearing in mind their roles as public opinion influencers, social media activists and human rights reporters must be wary not to underlie existing human rights abuses with unintentional discrimination in their reporting.

Update: Women’s Rights Activist Rezvaneh Mohammadi Transferred to Evin Prison

Posted on: October 2nd, 2018

UPDATE:

Rezvaneh Mohammadi was released on bail on Saturday October 20, 2018.

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – On Saturday, September 29th, women’s rights activist Rezvaneh Mohammadi was transferred to the Women’s Ward of Evin Prison at the end of her interrogation. She had been in custody in an undisclosed location since her arrest by security forces September 3rd.

Mohammadi is among a group of women’s and civil rights activists who in recent months have been pursued with renewed fervor by authorities. Najmeh Vahedi, Hoda Amid, and Maryam Azad, also women’s rights activists, have all been detained for unknown reasons during this period.

Vahedi and Amid had reportedly held educational training workshops for women inquiring about their rights in marriage contracts. Previously, in a brief interview with HRANA, Vahedi’s brother Reza said, “In a one-minute phone conversation with my sister on Tuesday, September 4th, she was only able to tell us that she didn’t know her charges or why she had been arrested. We keep inquiring [with authorities], and are getting anxious because it’s been 11 days and we still don’t know what’s going on.”

More than 750 domestic and foreign civil activists issued a statement over the weekend in protest of the increasing pressures on Iranian women’s rights activists, demanding their immediate and unconditional release.

Human Rights Watch issued a statement on September 5th of this year asking Iranian authorities to stop the repression of human rights defenders like Hoda Amid and Najmeh Vahedi and to immediately release those who are in custody for peaceful expressions of dissent.

Amnesty International also voiced their opposition to this civil crackdown last month, demanding that affected prisoners be immediately released and that defendants not be limited to a list of regime-designated attorneys.

Crackdown on Women’s Rights Activists Continues: Najmeh Vahedi held on ghost charges for 11 days running

Posted on: September 13th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Since women’s rights activist Najmeh Vahedi was arrested 11 days ago, her family has been struggling to learn more about the reasons behind her arrest on September 1st.

In a brief interview with HRANA, Najmeh’s brother Reza said, “In a one-minute phone conversation with my sister on Tuesday September 4th, she was only able to tell us that she didn’t know her charges or why she had been arrested. We keep inquiring [with authorities], and are getting anxious because it’s been 11 days and we still don’t know what’s going on.”

Najmeh Vahedi earned a BS in sociology from Tehran Allameh University and an MS in sociology from Tehran Alzahra University. She is now in her third semester of Women’s Studies at Tehran Allameh Tabatabai University.

On September 3, 2018, HRANA published a report on the detention of this women’s rights activist by security forces at her home.

Over the past few weeks, civil rights activists–especially women’s rights activists–have been pursued by authorities with a renewed fervor. Women’s rights activist Rezvaneh Mohammadi and women’s rights activist and attorney Hoda Amid were among those detained recently.

Vahedi and Amid had reportedly held educational training workshops for women inquiring about their rights in marriage contracts. At the time of this report, no further information was available on their respective charges, nor on the conditions facing them in custody.

Human Rights Watch issued a statement on September 5th of this year asking Iranian authorities to stop the repression of human rights defenders like Amid and Vahedi and to immediately release those who are in custody for peaceful expressions of dissent.

Amnesty International also voiced their opposition to this civil crackdown last week, demanding that affected prisoners be immediately released and that defendants not be limited to a list of regime-designated attorneys.