A 14-year-old girl was innocently celebrating her birthday with friends in the city of Shiraz, when a patrol of “morality police” pulled up. The teenager, who is only being identified as “Zahra”, over fear of reprisals, said the officers forced her and her friends into a van, beating them when they resisted.

She described what happened, “There were two women and two men in a huge van and they pushed us into it with the force of their beatings. Their objection was to the ripped jeans that we were wearing.

There were really no other issues concerning my friends and I.” Zahra and the other girls were released once they had signed pledges that they would not wear the ‘ripped jeans’ again, and that they would adhere to Iran’s ‘modest’ dress codes in the future.

“I still carry the bruises sustained from their beatings on my face. I still feel their pressure on my arm and my ribs still hurt,” she said.

Her mother followed the morality police van to the station. She described the ordeal in an interview as “the worst day of my life, as if the world has ended for me,” adding, “I know my daughter feels the same.” She also stated that the male officers threatened the girls with pepper spray to get them into the van, and that the female officers hit them and pulled their hair.

Zahra’s mother suffers from multiple sclerosis.

“It was unbelievable,” she continued, “When I entered the room, they were saying that these girls are not children any more and should wear proper clothes.

Signs of bruises are still visible all over her body. My daughter and her friends were wearing ordinary clothes, it was just that they were wearing ripped jeans.”

Many others have gone through similar experiences, said a human rights activist, “In the 21st century it is shameful to hear that a government makes decisions on how women should dress,There are many women sharing stories showing that they got lashes just because of attending a mixed party with men or dancing with men at a birthday party.”

Thousands of visible and undercover “morality” police patrol the streets to check for violations. Women whose hair or bodies are deemed to be inadequately covered may be publicly admonished, warned, fined or even arrested.

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