Human Rights Voices

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Iran, October 4, 2023

Iranian girl, 16, beaten into coma by morality police in Tehran over hijab, human rights group claims

Original source

Fox News

A human rights group is claiming that a 16-year-old Iranian girl was hospitalized after morality police beat her into a coma in Tehran over the weekend for not complying with dress code rules on the hijab.

Armita Garawand was allegedly beaten on the Tehran Metro on Sunday night and is currently in the intensive care unit of Fajr Hospital, according to Hengaw Organization for Human Rights.

"Her present condition is reported to be critical," Hengaw told Fox News in a statement. "After four days, she remains in a coma in the ICU. Government security forces have established a secure environment at Fajr Hospital, denying access to visitors, including her family members. According to our latest information, Iranian authorities have confiscated the mobile phones of Armita's family members following the publication of a photograph of her in a coma."

Iran’s state-run Fars news agency, however, has claimed that the teen had fainted after a drop in her blood pressure and hit her head on the side of the train car.

During an interview with the state-run media outlet, the teen’s parents said she was not attacked.

"We have checked all the videos and it has been proven for us that this incident was an accident," her father said. "We request people to pray for our child’s recovery."

The edited footage was published on state-run media and does not show what happened inside the train. The footage instead shows only the teen walking onto the train and cuts to her apparent friends carrying her out. It was unclear if she was wearing a head covering in the footage.

The human rights group claims that the parents were coerced into speaking and that security forces have limited access to the hospital.

The morality police in Iran have been mainly responsible for enforcing the country's strict Islamic dress code, which requires women to cover their bodies in long, loose clothing and their head with a headscarf or hijab.

Activists have drawn comparisons to an incident last year in which 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in police custody after being arrested for not wearing a head covering in public.

Demonstrations erupted for months across the county in response to Amini’s death. Police crackdowns resulted in about 400 deaths, according to international rights groups, including 50 minors. About 30 members of Iran's security forces were killed during the demonstrations.