Iran 'weaponising sexual violence against detained protesters': report
Sexual violence has been systematically weaponised by Iranian authorities to suppress women and men involved in anti-government protests, revealed an investigation on Tuesday.
Eleven incidents of sexual assault against protesters - some involving multiple victims and some perpetrated against minors - were confirmed in a CNN report since the death in custody of 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian Mahsa Amini. It is likely that the actual figure is far higher, however, as restrictions on information in Iran make corroborating accounts difficult.
Survivors who were able and willing to speak to reporters said security forces took "pretty girls" to separate rooms in detention centres, then proceeded to make unwanted sexual advances and in some cases rape them.
"There were kids as young as 13 and 14 years old who were captured in the demonstrations. They were brutally hurt," said Hana, a Kurdish-Iranian woman in her 20s who was detained by Iranian authorities for 24 hours.
Hana was arrested after footage emerged of her burning her headscarf in solidarity with the anti-government demonstrations.
She was held in Iran’s northwestern city of Urmia.
"They hurt the girls even more. They sexually violated them," she said.
Hana told reporters that while she was imprisoned a security official forced himself on her and kissed her. Luckily, her father came to bail her out.
The young women added that other inmates were not able to avoid the abusive and humiliating violence.
In one instance, a teenage boy demanded he joins his sister in an interrogation room. Hana said police beat the boy - who soiled himself from the attack - and then screams could be heard from his sister in the interrogation room, reported CNN.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have both documented repeated incidents of sexual assaults and gender-based violence against protesters in Iran.
Amnesty has chronicled accounts of harassment on the street, such as pulling women's hair and touching their breasts, as well as allegations of rape in detention centres.
Protests erupted in Iran in September after Mahsa Amini was arrested for allegedly wearing her hijab incorrectly. She died days later in the hospital. Tens of thousands of Iranians took to the streets to demand accountability for her death and an end to government violence.
Over two months on, the state has unleashed an unprecedented crackdown to quell protesters, particularly in Kurdish-populated areas.