In Iran’s southernmost region Sistan and Balochistan, forty-one girls have been kidnapped at gunpoint and subjected to sexual abuse and violence. The public anger and outcry led to the organisation of demonstrations, which government officials forcefully clamped down on. The demonstrators urged to trace the perpetrators who were “dressed in law enforcement of military uniforms” and hold them accountable. Baloch activists, among them Abdullah Burozgzada, fighting to achieve justice on this matter have been arrested. Locals fear that the victims will be subjected to further abuses or might incur lasting psychological damages from this traumatic experience.
Forty-one girls are believed to have been victims of sexual abuse in Iranian occupied Balochistan province. Imam Mawlawi Tayyib disclosed the information at the request of the families of the victims during a Friday prayer sermon in the city of Iranshahr.
He revealed that several men were accused kidnapping and raping the girls. Some of incidents allegedly took place during the holy month of Ramadan, which ended last week. He called on Iranian officials to launch a probe into the claims and hold the perpetrators accountable.
News of the crime sent shockwaves throughout the country. Angry Iranians protested in front of the district’s municipal headquarters, demanding the quick prosecution of the perpetrators. Iranian officials attempted to contain the anger of the public, and demonstrations were dispersed by force. Reports by Balochistan activists say that at least six protesters were arrested by the security forces.
Baloch sources claim that the perpetrators are members of the security and Basij forces.
Abdullah Burozgzada, a Baloch activist, was arrested when he along with his other friends was protesting in front of Governor House in Pahra (Iran Shahr) against the rape of Baloch girls by criminals. He said that the crime was committed by a state-supported gang in Pahra city of Iranian occupied Balochistan.
Fears over their reputation was a deterrent from filing harassment complaints for the majority of victims’ families, ILNA news agency reported, and said that an accurate number of victims has not yet been determined.
The Iranian Minister of Interior, Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, ordered Balochistan to open an investigation and announce its outcome to the public, according to the Fars News Agency.
Several of the victims have since received medical support, Mohammad Naim Aminifard, an MP from Iranshahr, told the media. However, a judicial chief in the city refused to confirm this information, and claimed that only three victims had stepped forward.
Mohammed Khani, General Prosecutor in Balochistan, said that four people were behind the kidnapping of girls, who were abducted off the street. Sources reported that the victims have claimed that they were kidnapped at gunpoint by people who were ‘dressed in law enforcement or military uniforms.’
A team of specialists has been sent to Iranshahr to join the investigation, announced the Health Ministry.
Locals in the area fear that the victims might be physically eliminated either by state forces, or that they might commit suicide out of fear because of the traditional stigma attached to rape.
This article was published by Iran News Update