Female Christian Prisoner Strip Searched Upon her Return to Prison

Iranian prison guards sexually harassed a female Christian prisoner, as they searched her upon her return to prison from a four-day leave. This harassment has been mentally damaging to her, reports say.

Mohabat News – Maryam Naghash Zargaran (Nasim), a Christian prisoner in the women’s ward of Evin prison, was sexually harassed by female prison guards as she returned from a four-day leave. Reports say that this has been mentally damaging to her.

This report, sent to Mohabat News, states that Ms. Zargaran had been granted a four-day leave, from November 8 to 12, for the first time since her arrest, 17 months ago. As she returned to prison, female guards forcefully demanded her to remove all her clothes, while others were present in the room as well.

Mrs. Zargaran was so shocked from the inappropriate order to remove her clothes that some prison guards proceeded to touch her inappropriately and insult her.

This kind of mental and physical torture can be very costly for Ms. Zargaran, as she suffers from heart problems. Having undergone heart surgery prior to her arrest, her time in prison worsened her condition and resulted in a transfer to Modares Hospital last year.

Maryam Naghash Zargaran is a 36 year old Christian believer who was arrested in winter 2013 for her faith and arbitrarily charged with “action against national security”. She was summoned to the intelligence office on January 6, 2013, where she was put under temporary arrest for three days. After initial interrogations, she was transferred to Evin prison and her case was sent to the Revolutionary Court.

An initial court in Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Courts, sentenced her to four years in prison for “propagating against the Islamic regime and collusion intended to harm national security”. Later, an appeals court approved this sentence. Ms. Zargaran was instructed to report to Evin prison to serve her sentence. She reported to Evin prison on July 15, 2013, and has remained there ever since.

Iranian authorities have refused to make any comments on the guards’ inappropriate treatment upon Ms. Zargaran’s return to prison.

Such horrible treatment by female prison guards had not been reported in the past couple of years, at least with any other female prisoner.

– Repeat of a Flagrant Treatment

This sort of treatment of female prisoners has a history in Evin prison. On October 30, 2012, about 20 prison guards from the security unit of Evin prison raided political prisoners’ cells and strip searched them in a disrespectful manner. It should be noted that the raid was specifically targeted at political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.

It is common practice in Iranian prisons to sexually harass political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in order to terrorize them. Prison guards have been heard to say that this is to break prisoners, so to speak, so they give up faith.

The female prisoners targeted by this attack protested the guards’ treatment, and some even went on hunger strike. Several Human Rights groups and groups defending prisoners’ rights condemned the attack as well.

Although the Iranian prison laws allow for body search, they limit its use to drug addicts and smugglers./