CHRI – Grandmother Detained For Defending Child in Court
A family court judge in Iran has refused to put a restraining order on a father suspected of sexually abusing his young daughter despite confirmations by five state psychologists that the child displayed signs of sexual abuse.
Instead, the girl’s mother and grandmother are facing prosecution for “slander,” prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
“About a year ago, a mother came to my office and said her four-year-old girl was being sexually abused by her father during visitation hours,” she said. “There was evidence that showed this was a fact.”
“Under these circumstances, I naturally contacted the court and filed a request to prevent the father from visiting his daughter. Also, five psychiatrists working for state hospitals confirmed that the father had sexually abused the child,” she said. “Their reports are in the file. But eight months later, the court is still procrastinating and no action has been taken.”
The judge presiding over the child’s case works at Branch 4 of the Family Court in the Iranian city of Karaj, 31 miles west of the capital city of Tehran.
“Not only that,” Sotoudeh continued, “the father sued the mother and grandmother for ‘insult’ and ‘slander’. “Then, today, [September 14], the girl’s grandmother went to court to tell the judge that the charges against her and her daughter are unfounded.”
“But apparently the judge was not listening to what she had to say and didn’t look at any of the evidence she presented,” said Sotoudeh. “So she got angry and lost her temper a little, which led to her detention.”
Sotoudeh said the case is a message from Iran’s judicial system to mothers that they should look the other way in cases of incest.
“Holding the grandmother of a child in jail has no legal justification, even if she did commit slander,” she said. “The message it is sending to mothers is that they should close their eyes in these tragic situations instead of resorting to legal action.”
“I will definitely follow up on this case in the coming days and hope I will get the support of all conscientious officials as well as colleagues in the legal profession,” she added.
Branch 25 of the General Court in Karaj is pursuing the case against the grandmother and mother. The mother and father of the child have been separated for three and a half years.
Sotoudeh, who spent three years in Evin Prison for peacefully engaging in her profession and advocating for civil and human rights in Iran, added that the grandmother was deliberately ordered to be taken into custody in the late afternoon on a Thursday so that she would have to spend at least a day behind bars on Friday, when Iranians take their weekend.
“These methods are not uncommon in the judicial system when they want to put pressure on plaintiffs,” said Sotoudeh.
Article 3 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was ratified by Iran’s Parliament in 1994, states that the interests of the child must be the “primary consideration” of private and public institutions at all times.
“Therefore, clearly the judge must ban the father from visitation and order him to attend psychological classes,” Sotoudeh told CHRI.