Iran photojournalist Yalda Moaiery 'sexually assaulted' by Iran police in detention

Iran photojournalist Yalda Moaiery 'sexually assaulted' by Iran police in detention
An Iranian photojournalist has accused authorities of sexually assaulting her after she was detained for covering street protests a year ago.
3 min read
21 September, 2023
Journalists have been previously detained in Iran for covering the Mahsa Amini case and related protests [Getty]

An Iranian photojournalist said she was sexually assaulted by police when she was detained for taking pictures of anti-government protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini.

Yalda Moaiery said in an Instagram post written in English and Farsi,that she was beaten and sexually assaulted by security forces during her arrest last year.

"Last year, on this day, on the first day of public demonstrations, I was arrested on Hijab Street in Tehran. They wrapped my scarf around my neck like a leash and I was sexually assaulted by the officers while getting into the van," she wrote.

"I spent the next three months in Evin and Qarchak prison, but I heard from other detainees that that day was the calmest day of the protest."

The Instagram post also displayed an image of Iranian protesters demonstrating alleged police brutality during Amini's detention, leading to her death.

Moaiery said her phone was only returned to her eight months later with data - likely related to photos stored on the device - erased from it.

She said that she was able to save some photos in the first moments of her arrest, "and this is one of them".

She was released on bail on 20 December 2022 and is awaiting a court date and potential trial, according to the International Women’s Media Foundation.

Moaiery has won several local and international awards for her journalistic work. Earlier this month, she wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post, titled: "Life after prison: Iranian women who stood up for Mahsa Amini."

She has covered events in countries wrecked by war and instability, including Afghanistan where women live under strict Taliban rule.

Other women reporters have also said they were sexually assaulted by Iranian security forces in detention.

Activists marked the one-year anniversary of the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Jina Amini on Saturday, who was allegedly detained for not wearing her headscarf correctly.

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Although Iranian officials claim that Amini died from a heart attack unrelated to her situation in the "re-education" centre, Amini’s parents and Iranian protesters have rejected this official explanation, saying that she died from blows to her body while in custody.

Her death sparked nationwide protests that continued for months and a brutal crackdown by security forces.

Ever since, authorities in Iran have vowed to implement stricter rules against women breaking the dress code, which includes wearing the hijab, or a head covering. 

A bill passed in the Iranian parliament this week which if made law could see women face up to 10 years imprisonment if they flout the dress code. It still requires approval by the Guardian Council however. 

Protests, although not as large as before, have sporadically continued across the country. Dozens of people have been killed or injured since September 2022.