In a new report from the Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) released this month, new accusations against the Iranian regime focus on how female political prisoners are treated in Iran. The report, entitled, “Women in Pursuit of Justice: Arbitrary Trends and Illegal Proceedings Victimizing Female Political Prisoners in Iran, focuses on the human rights violations being suffered by women political prisoners, but also by women throughout the Iranian judicial system.
“Ever since the fanatic mullahs’ rise to power in 1979, many dissidents have been facing imprisonment, torture, and executions. The main Iranian opposition group, People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), has reported over 120,000 of its members executed., one-third of whom are estimated to be women,” said the authors in the opening paragraphs of the report.
According to the report, at least 86 women have been executed during the administration of current Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. There are also a considerable number of women who have been arrested for arbitrary reasons, as well as participating in protests and demonstrations. More than half of these female prisoners are being detained in Evin Prison.
Prison Conditions Below Standard
Throughout Iran, prison conditions are below the international standard, with basic necessities, including food, water, and health care being routinely denied to prisoners or forcing them to pay for these basic necessities. The budget for prisons is limited and a majority of funds are allocated to the male prisons, making it even harder for women to obtain sanitary products and other necessities.
International laws discourage issuing prison sentences for women due to their roles as mothers and caregivers. “When sentencing women offenders, courts shall have the power to consider mitigating factors, such as lack of criminal history and relative non-severity and nature of criminal conduct, in the light of women’s caretaking responsibilities and typical backgrounds,” said Rule 6 of the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-Custodial Measures for Women Offenders.
In Iran, however, women are imprisoned for crimes, such as murder and robbery, but also for social crimes and even different beliefs through protesting or their art. Many may be held for months before receiving a trial that may involve no legal representation and then are sentenced to years in prison.
Systematic violations can be found throughout the justice system and many of these violations are negatively impacting the basic human rights of women in Iran.
Constitutional Rights Routinely Violated
In the Iranian constitution, the right to peaceful protest is enshrined. However, the regime and its security forces routinely violate that right, arresting women who protest and handing down harsh sentences. In just a period between December 2017 and January 2018, at least 500 young women and girls were among the approximately 8,000 who were arrested for protesting against the regime. A number of those arrested died in prison. There are also reports of physical abuse and excessive punishments for those who were arrested. Many are still in prison to this day.
Arrests are often violent and can be arbitrary, reflecting the control that the regime has over the Iranian people in terms of social and cultural issues. Women can be arrested without warrants, in their homes, workplaces, or even on the street. If you are in violation of the dress code, you could be at risk of receiving a beating right on the street.
Agents often threaten the women’s families to obtain confessions and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) can often be part of the arrests, particularly of human rights activists and those calling for an end to the death penalty in Iran.
Those women who are arrested may be threatened with rape, flogging, and other forms of torture in an attempt to get them to confess to crimes, particularly for those that are standing up against the regime and its actions toward the Iranian people.
This report highlights several issues regarding women in Iran, but it is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the gross human rights violations perpetrated by this regime and its mullahs as they spread their fundamentalist propaganda and attempt to retain control of Iran and its people.