Iran: UN experts shocked by new wave of attacks on girls and women

GENEVA (2 November 2023) – UN experts* today expressed shock over the death of 16-year-old Armita Geravand, who was hospitalised after collapsing on a subway in Tehran on 1 October, allegedly following an altercation about failing to wear a headdress or hijab.

The experts called for an independent, prompt and impartial investigation into her death. The Iranian government maintains Geravand suffered brain damage from her fall which led to her death.

“Women and girls should not be punished for wearing or not wearing any specific piece of clothing, and should certainly not be at risk of losing their lives for doing so,” the experts said.

They reiterated concerns previously expressed to the Iranian Government about the imposition of a dress code on women and girls in Iran and the use of excessive and unlawful force against those who do not comply.

This followed the redeployment of the morality police since the end of July 2023, after the introduction of the Chastity and Hijab Law. Several UN experts had expressed concern about the incompatibility of the provisions of the Chastity and Hijab Law with the principles of gender equality and other fundamental freedoms.

“We are dismayed at the parallels between the circumstances of Jina Mahsa Amini’s death and more recent deaths,” the experts said.

They also expressed grave concern and disappointment at the failure of authorities to conduct independent investigations into the deaths of women and girls during the nationwide protests following the death of Jina Mahsa Amini in September 2022.

“We are aware of reprisals against other women, including celebrities, for refusing to comply with the mandatory dress code,” the experts said. “Even before the law was passed, there were increasing reports of women facing legal action for violating the dress code. Some have lost their jobs or been sentenced to jail, while others have been ordered to perform forced labour.”

The experts urged Iranian authorities to amend the Constitution, repeal existing gender discriminatory laws, including regulations imposing compulsory dress codes, and abolish all regulations and procedures whereby women’s dress or behaviour in public or private life are monitored or controlled by State authorities, and introduce laws and policies to ensure full equality for women and girls in public affairs.

“We remain concerned and alarmed by the ongoing policies and practices in Iran which amount to total impunity for acts of gender persecution against women and girls, and urge the Government to put an end to them,” the experts said.

*The experts: The experts: Javaid RehmanSpecial Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of IranMorris Tidball-Binz, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Dorothy Estrada Tanck (Chair), Ivana Radačić (Vice-Chair), Elizabeth BroderickMelissa Upreti, and Meskerem Geset TechaneWorking Group on discrimination against women and girls; and Reem Alsalem, Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, its causes and consequences