Iran uses rape to enforce women’s modesty

By | December 18, 2022

Nicholas Kristof writes:

One gauge of the hypocrisy of the Iranian regime is that there are credible reports that it is enforcing its supposedly strict moral code by arresting women and girls accused of advocating immodesty, and then sexually assaulting them.

In a searing report about the rape of protesters by security forces, CNN recounted how a 20-year-old woman was arrested for supposedly leading protests and later was brought by the police to a hospital in Karaj, shaking violently, head shaven, her rectum hemorrhaging. The woman is now back in prison.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have independently documented multiple cases of sexual assault. Hadi Ghaemi of the Center for Human Rights in Iran, a watchdog organization in New York, told me of a 14-year-old girl from a poor neighborhood in Tehran who protested by taking off her head scarf at school.

The girl, Masooumeh, was identified by school cameras and detained; soon afterward, she was taken to the hospital to be treated for severe vaginal tears. The girl died and her mother, after initially saying she wanted to go public, has disappeared.

Accounts of sexual violence are difficult to verify because of the victims’ feelings of shame and fear, and CNN reported that the authorities sometimes film assaults to blackmail protesters into silence. What’s absolutely clear is that protesters keep turning up dead.

Consider Nika Shahkarami, a 16-year-old girl who burned her head scarf in public. Security forces closed in on her. Days later, the authorities announced she had died. An autopsy reportedly found that her skull, pelvis, hip, arms and legs had been fractured.

So the uprising across Iran isn’t just about head coverings. It’s about toppling a regime that is incompetent, corrupt, repressive and brutal.

“Should there be a government doing something wrong, the nation should punch it in the mouth,” Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini declared in 1979 after the revolution he led established the Islamic Republic. That’s what Iranians are now trying to do. [Continue reading…]

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