Iran journalist says was sexually assaulted during arrest

An Iranian journalist who interviewed the father of Mahsa Amini said she was sexually assaulted during her latest arrest and was now on hunger strike in prison, according to an audio message published Wednesday by several Persian media outlets and rights groups.

Nazila Maroufian, 23, has been repeatedly targeted by the Iranian authorities since she published an interview with Amjad Amini, whose daughter died in custody on September 16, 2022, sparking months of protests.

Rights groups have accused the Iranian authorities of stepping up an already intense crackdown to prevent the upcoming one-year anniversary of Amini’s death being marked by new protests.

Maroufian, who rights groups say has now been arrested four times in recent months, was most recently detained in Tehran on August 30.

“I was sexually assaulted in a situation where I was in the worst possible state,” she said in the audio message from Tehran’s Evin prison published by media outside Iran including Iran International and Radio Farda as well as the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) and Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

Maroufian, who is from Amini’s hometown of Saqez in Kurdish-populated western Iran, said in her message that she was now on hunger strike to protest her situation and that of all women who are subjected to violence in police stations and prisons.

“This strike is for me but is also for all the women in dire conditions in Iran,” she said in her message, which appeared to have been recorded during a phone call to her family which also shared pictures of bruises she allegedly sustained in the assault.

Reports earlier this week said she had also been jailed for one year on charges of “spreading propaganda” against Iran’s Islamic system.

After previous releases, Maroufian has defiantly posted pictures of herself without a headscarf in defiance of the Islamic republic’s strict dress code for women.

Mahsa Amini had been arrested for allegedly violating this code. Iranian authorities have indicated she died because of a health problem but, in his interview with Maroufian, Amjad Amini accused authorities of lying about the circumstances of his daughter’s death.

Iran has reacted harshly to reporting inside the country on the Amini case.

The two women journalists who helped bring the story to the world’s attention have now spent almost a year in Evin prison after their arrest in September.

Niloufar Hamedi reported for Iran’s Shargh newspaper from the hospital where Amini languished in a coma for three days before she died, and Elahe Mohammadi, a reporter for the Ham Mihan newspaper, went to Saqez to report on Amini’s funeral.

Both are now on trial on charges of violating national security, which they vehemently deny.


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