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Surviving Rape in Iran's Prisons

30. After a while they transferred me to another ward. Drugs were easily available there. I saw the rapes of young prisoners by older prisoners there. I saw it many times. The most susceptible prisoners were the young guys who were brought to Qezel Hessar from juvenile correction centers after they turned eighteen. The goons and stronger prisoners commonly sexually abused and raped the younger ones. The first saloon in Ward 3 belonged to prisoners under the age of 24. I saw many rape victims in that saloon. Sometimes when one of them ran afoul of the guards, they were punished and sent to other saloons. They were vulnerable among the goons and easily raped there.

31. I didn’t hear guards raping these guys. I reported about rape of prisoners to the authorities but they did not address it. I came to know about rapes of prisoners in the first week. I was in the shower. There were six or seven rooms in our ward. The doors were small and one could see feet and heads of prisoners. Once in the showers, and many times in the wards, I witnessed rape. Many Qezel Hessar prisoners are quite familiar with this kind of situation.

32. After a while, the head of our ward assigned me to report the number of prisoners in each saloon to him every night. Therefore, I used to go to other saloons to check how many prisoners were in each room. I saw many times that the older prisoners were sexually abusing the younger ones in those saloons.

33. I lived for six months among the Afghan prisoners. They were treated extremely badly in prison. I don’t remember the date. One day early in the morning, we woke up when we heard an extremely loud scream. The head of our ward said that an Afghan prisoner who had quarreled with a guard had been taken to the main office and he said it was his voice. He was right. It was his. He was raped with baton there. He was brought to the saloon after two hours and I saw him there.

34. After the rape, two Afghan prisoners took him to the health clinic. When he came back, my Afghan cellmates asked me to do something for him. I contacted Mohsen Bagi and asked his advice. We decided to write a complaint against the guards. The abused prisoner signed it. My cellmates signed it as witnesses. The abused prisoner went to the main office to submit the complaint. He was accompanied by our ward representative. Three or four hours later, they returned with bags of candy, chocolates and dried fruit. I realized that he had been paid some money too. The guard convinced him to withdraw his complaint and he agreed.

35. Then I was summoned to the main office. I was threatened to not follow up on his complaint and told that if I did, I would be in serious danger because they had made the victim withdraw his complaint.

36. The guards knew about rape in prison but they did not want to address it. They considered it an ordinary and routine prison phenomenon, like fighting and drugs. When I reported to them, they told me that they were unable to control it. The fact of the matter was they did not want to address and control it. They ignored it and let it go. They did not try to prevent the abuse or punish, even symbolically, the abuser.

37. I was tried by three courts. Branch 13 of the Revolutionary Court tried me for the crime of national security, and insulting Ayatollah Khomeini and Ayatollah Khāmene’i. It found me not guilty for the crime of national security but found me guilty of insulting Ayatollah Khomeini and Ayatollah Khāmene’i, and sentenced me to the maximum punishment which was two years imprisonment. My other charges, namely the crime of spreading immorality, disruption of public opinion by spreading false information, and unlawful sexual relationships, were tried in the Special Court of Arshad in Region 21 of Tehran. I was found not guilty of prostitution but guilty of the crime of disruption of public opinion and sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment. For unlawful sexual relationships, I was fined 100,000 Toman. My harshest trial was for the crime of insulting the Prophet in Branch 16 of the Criminal Court. I was found not guilty. Overall, I was sentenced to 36 months’ imprisonment and a 100,000 Toman fine.

38. I was in prison for 21 months and released on bail. I stayed in Iran for another two years and left in 2008.

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Tagged as:

Imprisonment, Sexual Violence, Torture, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, Punishment