Sunday , 2 April 2023

Four Decades of Gender Apartheid: Women Remain the Primary Victims of Rape

Iran-HRM – “They first threw us into a black van and blindfolded us with a blindfold, tied our hands with a wire, and then they took us to a place that was unknown to me. Then they took mobiles, bags and all our things, even the cosmetics inside the purse and without any questioning during the transfer and inside the detention center, they slapped and kicked us.”

They easily assaulted and sexually insulted us and other detainees, and it seemed that this is a normal concept for the personnel of IRGC’s intelligence detention center. They kicked the sensitive parts of our body hard and called us, bitch (translated verbally in Farsi “female dog”) using profane words saying “how many times have you had sex with …”
On the first day of detention, we along with a numerous other female detained protesters were kept in a cell as a group. After that the agents came and separated us from each other and took each of us to separate cells.
“Although my friends and I were sticking together to not be separated, they said no, the night is for ripping us! I said you are a Muslim, and we are human so for God’s sake, for our innocence. We are girls, for the sake of your own loved ones, leave us alone. They said, shut up you bitch “female dogs…” sleep at night…!”

The interrogators asked us our personal information and asked about little and big details of our lives and checked the contents of our phone and kept asking, “Now tell me who was your leader?” With whom or who are you related to from Makkah Mosque?”

IRGC intelligence interrogators insisted that we say that we have had sex with prominent figures and admit that we have been in contact with the armed group of Balochistan and the People’s Mojahedin and the monarchists, and when we denied the accusations of the interrogators, one of the interrogators told one of us, “I will make you talk like a nightingale, how many times have you served us, your muted mother’s tongue will talk, lewd girl!”

After the threats, “the interrogator called two people who were waiting at the door, and they came. Then they said it’s time! They tore my clothes. As much as I screamed and begged them to please kill me, but don’t do this to me, but it didn’t help.”

This is a statement are from one of the rape victims in Zahedan, whose identity due to society custom has been withheld. They were arrested in a protest gathering against the government along with many other girls. IRGC intelligence agents and interrogators of this security agency have sexually assaulted a number of these young girls during the interrogation period.

According to the interrogators questioning of these young girls, it is clear the IRGC intelligence interrogators intended to “create a scenario against the employees of Zahedan’s Makki complex” through the words of these female detainees.

It is worth mentioning that many of the detained protesters of recent protests who have been released from IRGC intelligence detention centers in Balochistan have suffered from severe depression and have cut off communication with those around them. Thus far many female and male students who were detained during the nationwide protests in Balochistan have stopped studying at the university after being released. Many fear that the behavior of the released detainees may be the psychological result of the treatment by IRGC intelligence agents and interrogators during their detention.

What is certain and the evidence shows is that the IRGC Intelligence organization is using sexual assault and threats and, in some cases, sexual assault as a tool for confessions, creating scenarios and psychologically killing the protesters, as well as spreading an atmosphere of intimidation and suffocation among its opponents.

Disclosed case of the rape of two young, detained women in a van in Tehran

Alireza Sadeghi, an IRGC agent, is sent to a mission in Sattar Khan area on October 11th. He arrests two girls and a man near the Sattar Khan gas station. The detainees were transferred to Tehran IRGC unit, but the relevant official said that they could not accept the “accused lady” and as a result, these two girls should be sent to Tehran Pars.
The IRGC officer further confessed to sexually assaulting the detained girl and claimed that the girl offered him sex in the car and that he had sex with her by “giving a temporary marriage sermon”.

Alireza Hosseini, who is named as the intelligence officer of “Imam Hassan Mojtabi” unit, did not mention sexual assault in his initial confession, and then in his narrative of the sexual assault, claimed that the arrested girl provoked him, and he raped her in the van.

This is the narrative of two IRGC agents who sexually assaulted a 18- and 23-year-old girl in a van who participated in the nationwide protests, in which the Hacker Group Edalat Ali recently revealed these documents on February 9, 2023.

It is revealed in these documents, that the deputy prosecutor in his letter to the prosecutor noted that two girls went to the 124 Qolhak police station and filed a complaint about the officers’ arrest and assault on them on the evening of October 3rd.
But immediately after referring to the complaint of these two girls, he wrote that the complaint of the girls was “not registered” with “coordination” with HAFA (Intelligence and Protection of Greater Tehran Security Command).

This document was written and published by Mohammad Shahriari, deputy prosecutor and head of the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Tehran on October 13, 2022, addressed to Ali Salehi, the public and revolutionary prosecutor of Tehran.

The documents provide details of how two female protesters were arrested and sexually assaulted by two IRGC agents, Alireza Sadeghi and Alireza Hosseini.
This letter is the first internal document disclosed by the Iranian regime judiciary, which exposes the “rape”, “torture” and “kidnapping” committed by government security authorities.

In this section, it is stated that “due to the problematic nature of the case and the possibility of information leakage in social networks and media and abuse by hostile groups, it is recommended to adopt the necessary orders to upgrade the classification to “top secret” and due to the lack of a filed complaint, “it should be closed with the passage of time by dismissing the accused without mentioning the names of the law enforcement agencies involved”.

The Guardian’s report on security officers sexually assaulting protesters in Iran

On February 6, 2023 The British newspaper Guardian interviewed 11 protesters, Iranian men and women who participated in the protests in the aftermath of Mahsa Amini’s death in custody of the morality police. They said that they were also subjected to rape, sexual violence, beatings and torture while being detained by Iranian regime’s security forces.
Some have said to Guardian, that they were assaulted in a police van or on the streets; others while in custody in police stations or prisons.
According to the Guardian, a nurse from a hospital in Gilan says she has encountered several women in the past few months who showed signs of sexual assault and rape.
This nurse said that she has treated at least five female protesters under 30 who came in with vaginal infections and told her they were assaulted in police custody. Some of them were bleeding from their genitals.

In this report, a 40-year-old woman identified as Sara from Sanandaj says security forces have used sexual violence and beatings to quell the protests.
She said that she was arrested during that first wave of protests and sexually assaulted by security officers.

In Gilan, the car of a 25-year-old girl, Dorsa, was stopped at a city checkpoint during the protests. She was with her sister and two boyfriends. After officers found spray paint in her car, she was taken to a strip room where a man groped her, took an object, and inserted it into her vagina. Her companions were also tortured.

it was the young girls and women of Iran who, with their strong and courageous presence, displayed unprecedented scenes and showed their disgust towards the anti-woman regime of Iran, gender apartheid, and compulsory hijab.

On the other hand, the Iranian government used sexual violence as a weapon against these protesting women. Harassment and sexual assault of female prisoners is actually a purposeful tool to break the resistance of female prisoners. The security forces also include a wide range of men affiliated with the regime, who persecute and torture women by relying on the safe margin given to them by the government, and no institution is responsible. Sexual rapists enjoy special immunity in the government of Iran.

“What was my sin except that I protested?”

An eyewitness account from the International Court of the November 2019 protests: The interrogator told me that he was my judge, and he would decide how many years I would be here for, whether it was 6 days, 60 days or 60 years! You must come and make a forced confession in front of the camera, and I asked, why should I come and make a forced confession?”

Until one day, they took me to a room with a glass in the middle and told me, “We don’t care about you anymore! We want to return you to fame and let you go!” I was very happy when the lady who was taking care of me came and blindfolded me and said, “Let’s go.” She took me into a very small room and removed my blindfold. I looked around and saw that there were no cameras in the room. The lady in charge spoke to me in a very harsh tone and said, “Quickly take off your clothes and give them to me. I want to go get your clothes.” I took off my clothes and then five men, all wearing hats with only their eyes visible, entered the room and started touching my body and questioning me. The interrogator, whose voice I always heard, also entered the room. I couldn’t speak, I was scared, and couldn’t believe that such a thing was happening to me. The interrogator told me that I had to make a forced confession that this was not happening to me.

The witness cries and continues to explain to the judges and lawyers of the court. He told the male officers: “I made a mistake; I will do whatever you ask. Tell me what to do. They killed me there. What was my sin except that I protested?”

During the November 2019 popular protests, the Iranian government employed unprecedented repression and massacre of protesters. 1500 people were killed and tens of thousands were arrested. The government also used sexual harassment as a means of spreading fear and intimidation among the protesting population. Security interrogators engaged in sexually abusive behavior towards young detainees, especially underage girls. Sexual harassment, verbal abuse, and threats of sexual violence are considered tools of psychological warfare. Security forces attempt to demean and demoralize individuals in order to prevent them from continuing their resistance or activism.

Rape, a tool to break down prisoners

During the 1970s and 1980s, the Iranian government employed unprecedented violence in dealing with its opposition on the streets and in illegal detention centers. Its performance on days when it feels it is losing control is similar to that of the 1960s and employs the same level of violence.

In the spring of 2009, after the announcement of election results and the beginning of people’s protests, Mehdi Karroubi wrote in a letter to Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former head of the Assembly of Experts, that “some individuals have severely raped detained girls, resulting in injuries and tearing of their reproductive system.”

He also responded to Saeed Mortazavi, Tehran’s prosecutor at the time, who had raised baseless allegations about these statements, saying, “My documents were from people who came to me and either had been abused themselves or witnessed it, or had confessed to it.”

Among these individuals, Maryam Sabri and Ebrahim Sharifi can be mentioned, who had been subjected to sexual assault.

After the remarks of Karoubi, Hashemi Shahroudi, the Judiciary Chief at the time, promised to follow up on this issue, but later denied Karoubi’s remarks. Karoubi’s letter to Hashemi Rafsanjani proved that the rape of prisoners in Iranian regime prisons and detention centers has continued in the same pattern as in the 1960s and 1970s. And the process of raping prisoners has continued as a systematic process in Iranian government prisons.

Taraneh Mousavi, abducted, raped and burned

During the events of 2009, news sources reported the death of a girl named “Taraneh Mousavi”, who was abducted near the Qoba Mosque in Tehran.Officials in a car sexually assaulted her and then took her to the hospital due to the tearing of her reproductive and anal organs. However, Taraneh died, and the officials burned her body outside the hospital.

After this news was published, Iranian state television claimed that there were only three Taraneh Mousavis in the country, and all three were safe. Nevertheless, news sources released photos of the victim. In addition, the testimonies of female prisoners proved that the sexual harassment of women prisoners in Iran continues in a systematic process. Her family did not find any trace of her, and a few days later, her burned body was found between Karaj and Qazvin.

In November of 2009, Human Rights Watch documented cases of sexual assault in Iranian regime prisons that occurred after the presidential election on June 12th, and called on the Iranian judiciary to address these cases.

The Secretary-General of Amnesty International also announced on August 15th that the organization had asked Ali Khamenei to quickly invite an independent international expert committee to investigate torture in Iranian regime prisons. He claimed that both men and women in Iranian prisons have been subjected to sexual assault and other forms of torture, and in some cases, these tortures have led to the death of prisoners.

In the early years after the establishment of the Iranian regime, thousands of people were arrested and imprisoned on charges of collaborating with opposition political organizations, participating in civil movements, or simply criticizing government policies. Among them, a countless number of political prisoners were women. Sexual torture was used as a tool to break down prisoners in the first step. Women prisoners have experienced widespread and pervasive sexual harassment and torture.

Rape of virgin girls before execution

Based on conducted research, rape and sexual torture against female political prisoners in the 1980s is an undeniable part of Iran’s history of widespread and severe human rights violations. There are many cases and examples that have been written about in dozens of books on this subject. For example, in the Tabriz prison, an interrogator named Mehdi systematically raped most of the female prisoners, and when the issue leaked out, the regime tried to cover it up.

Sexual torture was not limited to the prison period only. Even those who were sentenced to death were not exempt from this despicable act.

Government officials also prioritized the massacre of prisoners with Khomeini’s fatwa. They used a religious justification to rape all the girls before execution, some of whom were virgins. The results of an investigative work reveal that these girls were raped before their execution, so that they would not go to heaven.

Asadollah Lajevardi, the head of Evin Prison at the time, told female prisoners that they would not be executed as virgins. Prison authorities would marry off virgin girls before execution to provide a religious justification for their rape. In some cases, they even brought sweets for the families of these girls after execution, claiming that it was to celebrate their daughter’s wedding.

According to the conducted research, there are also multiple testimonies from female prisoners who were raped by interrogators or prison officials, using the legal provisions of ” prisoners of war ” to ideologically justify the rape of female prisoners.

One of the most shocking accounts was also an incident that happened to Nasrin Shojai, who was a 12–13-year-old girl at the time of her arrest. After years of imprisonment and torture, in the summer of 1988, when she was 18-19 years old, she was hanged in Isfahan after being raped.

Another shocking example in August 1988: a Revolutionary Guard in civilian clothing went to the home of an executed girl and brought a piece of cloth and some money for her family, saying, “This is your daughter’s dowry.” The father of the executed girl responded with a bitter laugh and anger, saying, “Was my daughter happy to be a marriage contract with you at the time of her execution that you bring us cheap fabric and money? You raped her yourself!”

Shocking confessions

“At the age of sixteen, I joined one of the Basij bases and quickly rose to a high position in the Basij. My superiors were so pleased with me that at the age of eighteen, I was “honored” with the opportunity to marry girls who were about to be executed. According to him, in the Iranian regime, the execution of virgin girls, regardless of the crime committed, is illegal. Therefore, on the night before the execution, a “marriage” ceremony is held; meaning the virgin girl is forced to have sexual intercourse with one of the prison guards, essentially being raped by her “husband.” He says, “I regret this action, even though the marriage was legal.”

So if it was “legal,” why the regret? “Because I saw that these girls were more afraid of the night of their “wedding” than the morning of their execution. They always resisted, to the point where we had to put pills in their food. When they got up in the morning, there was no sign of life left in them, as if they were ready or even eager for death.”

“I remember hearing their cries and screams after the rape.” He never forgets how one of these girls grabbed onto his body and neck. She had injured his entire body.

In this chronology, which has been used to investigate violence and sexual assault, it is evident that Iranian regime security forces have been perpetrating violence against Iranian women for four decades. We believe that rape has not been limited to the period of the 2022 nationwide protests, but that for four decades, the IRGC have employed the highest level of violence against Iranian women. This level of violence against female prisoners alone can be presented as a war crime in international courts, and the Iranian government can be brought to trial. This level of violence against female prisoners alone is considered a war crime.

The level of violence used against Iranian women reached its highest possible level in the 1980s, but unfortunately, due to the suffocation of the Iranian regime and the lack of access to social media, it has been forgotten in the silence of the news.

Current officials of the regime, including Khamenei, Ibrahim Raisi, the president, Ejei, the judiciary chief, and Qalibaf, the speaker of the mullah’s parliament, who are involved in suppressing the current protests, have all been directly involved in these crimes since the 1960s. The UN Security Council must make the necessary arrangements to hold them accountable.