- CW: rape, sexual assault
- Nazanin Bahrami, an Iranian actress, was arrested by secret police in Tehran after signing a letter that condemned the rampant sexual violence and abuse in the film industry in Iran. Around 800 other women signed it along with her.
This is yet another example of why many women refuse to speak out, especially in more authoritarian countries, also see Peng Shuai, among many other cases. It is also interesting, though perhaps not terribly surprising, that the #MeToo Movement started, broadly, with sexual harassment in the US film industry.
Reportedly, Bahrami was surrounded on her way home from Tehran by undercover officers who whisked her off to an undisclosed location. Her family has said they have not been able to contact her or determine her current whereabouts.
This troubling news comes as members of the Guidance Patrol (the Iranian morality police created in 2005) are cracking down on women for incorrectly wearing head coverings, along with other violations of “morality”. They have also reportedly grown increasingly violent recently.
Women in Iran, as around the world, have always faced sexual violence and harassment, though in Iran it there have been numerous cases of women being severely punished by the state for speaking out or even executed for defending themselves against rape.
One such example of this is Reyhaneh Jabbari who was arrested in 2007 for stabbing to death Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a doctor and a former Intelligence Ministry employee.
Jabbari admitted that she had stabbed Sarbandi after he attempted to sexually assault her, however she also claimed that a third party that was present may have been responsible for his death.
She was hanged in late 2014 after what can only be described as an unfair detention and trial. Simply another woman brutalized and subsequently murdered by deeply ingrained sexism in Iran.
Women everywhere deserve better, they deserve to be free from sexual assault and rape (this shouldn’t need to be said). They also must be free from oppressive laws that dictate what they are permitted to wear and do.
Those people and governments that do engage in assaults on women, whether physically or upon their rights more generally, should face severe punishment. We must make the world a safe place for everyone to thrive. Bahrami, and all women, must be free.