Now, a new horror is being forced on the protesters of Iran who’ve spent weeks continuing their fight amidst brutal oppression by Islamic forces.
More than 14,000 Iranians have been arrested in connection with the demonstrations being held around the country, with the country’s parliament voting overwhelmingly last week in favour of the death penalty.
Lawmakers think it’ll teach those arrested a “good lesson” and deter others from joining. The protests have included women ditching their mandated headscarves and publicly burning them, cutting their hair, and holding signs demanding their human rights.
Among those arrested are hundreds of children – young girls fighting for their futures. Iran is one of the world’s last countries to execute “juvenile offenders,” with nine the age of criminal responsibility for girls, compared to 15 for boys.
But under Iranian law, you can’t execute a minor if they’re a virgin.
That roadblock has been solved in the past by marrying the girls off to prison guards to be raped the night before their murders – a practice that’s been documented over the decades by journalists, families, activists and even a former leader.
In 2014 Justice For Iran published a report on the organised rape of virgin girls awaiting execution in the country’s prisons, specifically focusing on the 1980s. It detailed that the practice was systemic, and likely approved of by higher officials within the government.
Islamic Republic leader, Hussein-Ali Montazeri, tried to speak out against the executions, conversations he detailed in his 2000 memoir.
“I told judges not to write death sentences for girls. This is what I said. But they perverted my words and quoted me as saying: ‘Don’t execute girls. First married them for one night and then execute them,'” he wrote.
In 2009, a serving member of the paramilitary Basiji militia told The Jerusalem Post, he was forced to take part in such rapes.
“At 18, I was given the ‘honour’ to temporarily marry young girls before they were sentenced to death… I regret that, even though the marriages were legal. I could tell that the girls were more afraid of their wedding night than of the execution that awaited them in the morning,” he said.
“By morning the girls would have an empty expression; it seemed like they were ready or wanted to die.”
Activists and family members are reporting that it’s happening now, in 2022, alongside torture, beatings and horrific sexual abuse.
Watch: Young Iranian TikTokers are sharing the atrocities coming out of their country on social media.
Daily Dot also reports imprisoned women are asking their lawyers for access to abortion and morning-after pills as they are being subjected to repeated rapes.
Scores of protesters have already died, with the Iran Human Rights NGO (IHRNGO) group claiming at least 326 people have been killed, including 43 children and 25 women.
16-year-old Asra Panahi was reportedly killed by the Iranian security services after she was beaten in her classroom for refusing to sing a pro-regime song when her school was raided in October.
Iranian TikTok star Hadis Najafi, 22, was shot dead by Iranian forces in September.
Executions are already underway, with 22-year-old rapper Saman Yasin one of the more recent to be given the sentence for supporting the protests on social media. But this new government ruling signed by 227 members of Iran’s 290-strong parliament, will see routine executions increase exponentially.
Among those facing the potential sentence are students, lawyers, journalists, activists, brothers standing up for their sisters and, devastatingly, children.
How can you help?
Various petitions have been started calling for the execution of Iranian protesters to be stopped, including this one in support of seven locals who’ve been given the sentence.
In terms of donations, The NCRI Women’s Committee aims to achieve equal rights for Iranian women. Money donated to them helps them improve and expand their efforts to support Iranian women’s struggle.
United for Iran empowers a growing global network of issue experts, coders, developers, and activists to create an Iran where civil liberties are respected. Their technologies empower Iranians to stay informed, voice their beliefs, stand up for their values and organise. Their campaigns raise public awareness and directly pressure the Islamic Republic of Iran to spare lives, release prisoners and stop persecutions.
The international community is also being urged to amplify the voices of the Iranian people. So follow and share their messages on social media.