Silenced voices: the horrifying reality of sexual violence in Iran’s ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ protests

HomeNewsSilenced voices: the horrifying reality of sexual violence in Iran's 'Woman, Life,...

Kenya Nicol

Amnesty International accuses Iranian security forces of employing sexual violence as a “weapon” to “crush” participants in the “Woman, Life, Freedom” movement, shedding light on harrowing ordeals faced by 45 victims (26 men, 12 women, and 7 minors). According to Secretary-General Agnès Callamard, this includes children as young as twelve years old.

Sexual violence: a weapon of Iranian authorities

“Iranian intelligence and security agents have used rape and other forms of sexual violence to torture and punish protesters, including children barely twelve years old,” states Agnès Callamard. The 120-page report by Amnesty International reveals the heart-wrenching testimonies, exposing sexual violence as a key weapon in the arsenal of Iranian authorities to suppress protests and opposition.

Testimonies of horror

“They started by tearing off my clothes, and when I begged them to stop, they hit me very hard in the mouth… They brutally raped me,” recounts a victim named Maryam. The violence was a consequence of her and her friends removing their veils during the protests that erupted in Iran after September 2022.

Collective rape and threats

Of the 45 victims documented, 16 suffered rape, with four women and two men subjected to collective rape by multiple agents. Farzad describes suffering collective rape in a police van, followed by threats: “I vomited a lot, and I was bleeding from the rectum.” The majority of victims refrained from filing complaints, fearing further harm, and those who did were threatened to withdraw them.

Impunity of security forces

Amnesty International denounces the “impunity” of security forces, revealing that five protesters who experienced sexual violence have been sentenced to death based on confessions “extracted under torture.” Javad Rouhi died suspiciously, and Majid Kazemi was executed in May.

“Woman, Life, Freedom” in blood

The “Woman, Life, Freedom” protests resulted in hundreds of deaths and thousands of arrests. Amnesty International’s report sheds light on the horrifying use of sexual violence as a tool to suppress dissent, emphasizing the urgent need for international attention and action to address the ongoing human rights crisis in Iran.

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