Justice for Iran report helps UN break global silence on rape of virgin girls in Iranian prisons

October 31, 2013

In her comprehensive report ‘Pathways to, conditions and consequences of incarceration of women’, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Professor Rashida Manjoo, makes ample reference to the report by Hivos partner Justice for Iran, ‘Crime and Impunity: Sexual Torture of Women Prisoners in Islamic Republic. The UN report shows how human rights abuses and violence prior to, during, and after imprisonment affects women of all ages and cultures.

By referring to the JFI report, Professor Manjoo’s report acts as a landmark in highlighting the plight of women in Iranian prisons. It identifies ‘Crime and Impunity’ as a source that has “uncovered cases of rape of female political prisoners in the Islamic Republic of Iran throughout the 1980s, including the rape of young virgin girls before execution, forced marriages and other forms of sexual violence, some of which continues today.”

Ms. Manjoo’s report identifies JFI’s research on  how Islamic Republic authorities use various forms of political activism among Iranian women as justification for harassment, arrest and detention. It also highlights JFI’s series of interviews and witness statements revealing the Islamic Republic’s unprecedented policy of reported rape of virgins prior to execution, in addition to forced marriages and other forms of sexual, physical and mental violence as part of state policy and prison regulation affecting thousands of women in Islamic Republic prisons since 1979 and continuing to this day. Finally it refers to JFI’s work identifying the use of psychological abuse as a means of branding and humiliating the dignity of the prisoners, extracting private details of their sex life and obtaining false confessions.

According to JFI Co-Director Shadi Amin, “This report marks the first time that the issue of raping virgin girls in Iranian prisons is formally acknowledged at the UN level. The report also shows various ways in which Islamic Republic authorities have subjected women to discriminatory, abusive and violent treatment as part of state policies designed to mistreat Iranian citizens and prisoners.”

A Hivos partner since 2010, Justice for Iran is one of the few Iranian organisations that tackles sexual violence against women by the Iranian authorities head on. Specifically, it was established to eradicate the impunity and systematic practice by Iranian state officials of sexually abusing detained women to extract confessions.The organisation raises public awareness, demands accountability for women’s rights violations committed by the Iranian government and actively seeks to hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes.

Hivos supports JFI because its overall mission and objective is to strengthen, promote and defend women’s rights in the increasingly discriminatory and fundamentalist environment in Iran.