Since the 1979 revolution, Iranian women have faced severe repression in the form of forced veiling, mass arrests and executions, all enforced by Iran’s morality police and judiciary. In recent years, waves of protests against the government’s oppressive policies towards women were met with brutal violence, leading to hundreds of civilian deaths and thousands of injuries, as well as torture and sexual abuse of Iranians in detainment. In 2022, Jina Mahsa Amini's death at the hands of morality police triggered nationwide protests with over 500 killed and more than 20,000 arrested.
Domestic violence in Iran is a long-standing issue caused by outdated laws, patriarchal impunity and a lack of legal protection. Men have been favored in intimate relationships and the Islamic Penal Code allowed them to legally kill their wives for adultery, while women could be executed for the same crime. There have been no legal protections or shelters for victims, and gender equality efforts were viewed as a threat to Islamic principles. This has led to rampant domestic violence against women.
For decades, sexual violence in Iran has been a major issue. Following the 1979 Revolution, reports of prison rape emerged. During the 2009 protests, thousands were arrested and reports of torture and mass rape emerged again. In 2020, a global #MeToo movement began with women sharing their experiences of harassment and rape. This fight for protection against gender-based violence and accountability was essential, despite legal restrictions and repression.