Women in Iran detained for protesting against the ruling regime are suffering sexual violence carried out by agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) intelligence agency, as reported on December 1. One woman from the city of Bukan in West Azerbaijan province had told her fellow prison detainees she had been raped while being interrogated by members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) intelligence agency, the outlet IranWire reported. The 22-year-old was transferred to a hospital because of her mental and physical condition but upon release, committed suicide, according to the outlet.
Fatemeh Davand, a political activist now in Turkey, had once been detained at the jail in question, Urmia prison, and left Iran in 2021. She told IranWire that women had told her they had witnessed and suffered sexual violence while in detention since the protests began. “At least eight young women, including a 17-year-old girl, said that they were raped by IRGC intelligence forces during their preliminary interrogation before entering the prison,” Davand told IranWire, a collaborative news website run by professional Iranian journalists in the diaspora and citizen journalists inside Iran.
The death in custody of 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman Mahsa Amini on September 16, three days after her arrest for allegedly improperly wearing a hijab, has spurred an outpouring of anger against the regime of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has ruled Iran as a burtal autocrat since 1989. Protests against the treatment of women have morphed into a full scale revolt against the Iranian regime. However, the unrest has been met with brute force by the IRGC which answers to Khamenei, as well its Basij militia of volunteers. IranWire has identified 577 of the arrested women, some of whom have been released on bail. Fatemeh Davand said that before being sent to Urmia prison, many faced abuse by IRGC agents, including rape at temporary detention centers.
In November, CNN first reported that unspeakable sexually violent tactics were being used to suppress, demoralize and blackmail protesters, many of whom are kidnapped, disappearing into a network of prisons and secret jails. “There were girls who were sexually assaulted and then transferred to other cities,” one Kurdish-Iranian woman told the network, “they are scared to talk about these things.” Some of rapes were filmed and used to blackmail protesters into silence, utilizing the stigma attached to victims of sexual violence, according to CNN. The network said that many cases of sexual violence it reviewed since the protests started came from the west of the country, where large areas are predominantly Kurdish.
Hana Yazdanpana, spokesperson for the Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK), a nationalist and separatist militant group of Kurds in Iran, said that women arrested in the Kurdish cities of Sanandaj and Saqqez were frequently sexually assaulted. “We hear about such cases on a daily basis,” she told Newsweek. “However, due to the lack of enough information and the victims’ fear, we cannot proceed on investigations. “After they are raped and freed, they are threatened in many ways. Threatened that if they mention it, next time it will be worse,” she said.