Sexual assault in the prisons of IRI​

We have to be a loud and clear voice for those whose voices cannot be heard. Under international law, rape is a crime against humanity—and it is our duty to work to bring impunity for such crimes to an end.
Shirin Ebadi
Nobel Peace Laureate from Iran

Sexual assault and rape in Iran’s prisons is a brutally heinous torture tactic by the Islamic Republic since coming into power in 1979.  The recent uprising in Iran, ignited by the murder of Mahsa (Jina) Amini by Morality police in September 2022, has led to more widespread use of sexual assault against protestors by Islamic Republic security forces.

There are several case reports published in mainstream media, such as CNN, The Guardian, NYTimes, Iran Human Rights, Newsweek, and Iranwire, of such atrocities and violence against Iranians expressing their right to freedom. Social media is rife with reliable accounts of sexual assault in Iran’s detention centers. However, it is estimated that the actual number of such cases is much higher, and many are unaccounted for due to the following:

  1. Many of the prisoners were killed and buried by the government forces, with no means to verify if they were subject to sexual violence during their detentions. 
  2. Many of the victims are still in detention with severely restricted access to communication and legal assistance, subjected to threats and intimidation preventing them from disclosing details of their experiences. 
  3. Sexual assault victims suffer from enormous physical and mental distress from their personal experience in addition to the shame and stigma they face from the community. They do not have access to appropriate mental health supports which exacerbates their condition, leading to prolonged untreated mental health disorders that oftentimes result in suicide.  

Have you been subject to the sexual assault while under arrest? Share your harrowing experience securely with us via Justice is near.

According to the Islamic Republic Constitution Chapter 3, Articles 38 and 39 any form of torture for the purpose of extracting confession or acquiring information is forbidden and the dignity and repute of the detainees are mandated by Law. There are more bylaws and regulations issued by the Islamic republic over the last decades which emphasize and supposedly protect the human rights of detainees, as well as mandate regular inspections of all the detention centers to ensure these rules are observed. Unfortunately, there is clear evidence to the contrary.

There have been several United Nations general assemblies aiming to address sexual violence, and since 2007 United Nations has initiated a systematic approach around “sexual violence in conflict”. The latest of these actions, Security Council resolution 2467 was passed in 2019 and has developed a new framework to stop conflict-related sexual violence. 

 With no accurate and reliable reporting of data, the true statistics on sexual violence in Iran’s prisons require public scrutiny and surveillance.  We can only rely on concerned citizens’ reports that provide safe uncensored communication for more comprehensive data gathering about this regime’s sexual violence against Iranian citizens. We also are planning to find paths to provide medical and mental care to the survivors of sexual assaults. If we all stand together truth and justice will prevail and criminals in power will be held accountable.

  1. Qiblawi, Tamara; Arvanitidis, Barbara; Elbagir, Nima; et al “How Iran’s security forces use rape to quell protests” (November 21, 2022) CNN, Retrieved January 5, 2023
  2. “Iran Protests: Detained University Students Subjected to Sexual Assault, Disappearances” (December 6, 2022) Centre for human right in Iran, Retrieved January 5, 2023
  3. Parent, Deepa; Habibiazad,Ghoncheh “Iranian forces shooting at faces and genitals of female protesters, medics say’ (December 8, 2022) The Guardian, Retrieved January 5, 2023
  4. Cole, Brendan “Protesters Claim Mass Sexual Abuse in Iranian Prisons by Regime: Report” (December 1, 2022) Newsweek, Retrieved January 5, 2023
  5. Ghadarkhan, Samaneh Activist Reports Mass Sexual Abuse In Iran’s Detention Centers” (November 30, 2022) Iranwire, Retrieved January 5, 2023
  6. UN Rapporteur On Iran Urged To Probe Sexual Abuse Of Women Detainees” (December 3, 2022) Iranwire, Retrieved January 5, 2023
  7. Kristof, Nicholas, “Iran Uses Rape to Enforce Women’s Modesty” (December 17, 2022) The New York Times, Retrieved January 5, 2023
  8. Iran Tortures, Sexually Abuses Detained Protesters: Reports” (December 10, 2022) Iran International, Retrieved January 5, 2023
  9. Watson, Lucy,“‘It has to end’: Protesters tell ITV News of sexual violence at hands of Iranian regime” (January 10, 2023) ITV news, Retrieved Jan 30,2023
  10. Surviving Rape in Iran’s Prisons” (November 10, 2011) Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, Retrieved January 5, 2023
  11. Iran: Leaked official documents ordering deadly crackdown highlight need for international action” (September 30, 2022) Amnesty International Public Statement, Retrieved January 5, 2023
  12. ایران. قانون اساسی جمهوری اسلامی , گردآورنده ب. کوهی اصفهانی، کاظم، پژوهشکده شورای نگهبان 1358 
  13. بخشنامه سازمان زندان‌ها در رابطه با حقوق زندانیان – ایسنا (January 11, 2022) Iranian Students’ News Agency, Retrieved January 10, 2023
  14. نسخه چاپی آيين نامه اجرايي نحوه ايجاد، اداره و نظارت بر بازداشتگاه هاي انتظامي (February 26, 2013) معاونت تدوین، تنقیح و انتشار قوانین و مقررات Retrieved January 10, 2023
  15. Goetz, Anne-Marie “Sexual Violence as a War Tactic – Security Council Resolution 1888: Next Steps” United Nations- UN Chronicle, Retrieved January 15, 2023
  16. Conflict-Related Sexual Violence” (March 29, 2022) Report of the United Nations Secretary-General Retrieved January 15, 2023
  17. UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict
  18. Watson, Lucy,“‘It has to end’: Protesters tell ITV News of sexual violence at hands of Iranian regime” (January 10, 2023) ITV news, Retrieved Jan 30,2022



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