Iran government pressure forces women's NGO assisting victims of domestic abuse to close

Iran government pressure forces women's NGO assisting victims of domestic abuse to close
The Sun House NGO in Iran is to close its doors after 15 years of service, due to unnamed pressure from above.
2 min read
09 March, 2022
The Sun House help women with drug problems to end their addiction and secure skills and employment [Getty]

A women’s NGO in Iran is to close its doors after 15 years, citing unnamed pressure to cease operations, according to IranWire

The Khaneh Khorshid, which means Sun House, first opened in 2007 and helps underprivileged women in Tehran who are facing problems with drug addiction, homelessness, or domestic violence

"They don't want NGOs to be as active as they were before," founder Leila Arshad told the Iranian Hamshahri newspaper.

The closure of the Sun House, which is one of just 28 non-governmental women's shelters in Iran, appears part of systematic efforts by authorities to suppress and shutter NGOs in Iran. 

This week, the NGO Sun Charity, a school that helped impoverished working children in the city of Kerman, was shut down. 

It was established to assist "helpless women who have been harmed by addiction", according to their mission statement.

It later shifted its focus to work with Iranian mothers who had beaten drug addiction, and provide them with vocational and life skills. 

The founder Ashad said had been feeling pressure from authorities since 2018. 

"The restrictions on us increased day by day," Arshad told IranWire, adding, that she had been told to forget about the women her NGO helps, “because they’re going to die anyway”.

Sun House operates in the Darvazeh Ghar area of Tehran, where numerous drug gangs and users congregate. In addition to helping women overcome their addiction, Sun House also conducted patrols in the area, locating and helping drug users, and distributing clean syringes and condoms. 

A number of the women who worked for the Sun House, and participated in the patrols, were former drug addicts who had previously been helped by the NGO. 

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The closure of the NGOs is evidence of the ongoing struggle between the state and civil society, according to Iranian journalist and sociologist Saeed Madani.

"Civil society has characteristics that distinguish it from the state…and make it independent from the government in terms of management, financial resourcing and standpoint," Madani told IranWire

One of the most notable NGO closures occurred in June 2020, when the Iranian judiciary ordered the closure of the Imam Ali Society with staff arrested for "activities against national security".

The Sun House has announced it will continue to help and provide services until 20 March, before closing its doors.