Inside an Iranian Women’s Prison

Sleeping in squalid conditions, queuing for hours on end for food and struggling to care for a newborn baby are just some of the horrifying challenges girls in Iran’s grim prison’s face.

Dozens of juvenile offenders – some of whom are just nine years old – are languishing on death row for crimes such as murder, drug trafficking and armed robbery. Award-winning photographer Sadegh Souri, who lives in Tehran, has given an insight to the harsh conditions young people face in these grimy institutions as they anticipate their fate.

Young women can be hanged for crimes, sometimes following unfair trials based on forced confessions. The girls are imprisoned in a Juvenile Delinquents Correction Centre after their sentence verdict and a large number of the inmates are then killed when they
reach 18.

Last year there was an escalation in the use of the death penalty in Iran, with at least 830 people executed between 1 January and 1 November 2015. There were reports that at least four of these were juvenile offenders.

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Shaqayeq, 15, has been in prison for almost a year on charge of armed robbery from a chain store in Tehran. Her grandmother had come to visit her after a year. Her death sentence has been issued and she must reach 18 so the verdict can be carried out
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Mahsa is 17. She falls in love with a boy and intends to marry him, but her father is against the marriage. One day she has an argument with her father and kills him with a kitchen knife. Mahsa’s brothers are requesting death penalty or lex talionis (an ‘eye for an eye’).

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Khatereh, aged 13, ran away from home because her uncle raped her. A week after she escaped she was attacked and gang raped by a group of youths in a park. Police found her unconscious on the ground and after treatment she was transferred to Juvenile Delinquents Correction Centre.
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Female inmates can keep their newborns with them in prison until they are two years old. Zahra married when 14 and has two children. She is 17 now and she is in jail because of stealing women’s mobiles. She has been in prison for the same reason three times

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