Iranian teen in critical condition after alleged hijab confrontation

October 4, 2023

A 16-year-old Iranian girl, Armita Geravand, was in critical condition Wednesday after human rights activists say she was confronted by authorities for violating laws concerning the hijab, a religious head covering.

Reports about Geravand come just over a year after after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died on September 16, 2022 while in custody three days after she was arrested by Iran’s morality police for not properly wearing a hijab.

Amini’s death sparked mass protests across Iran, in one of the largest challenges to Iran’s theocratic regime since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The demonstrations raised questions last year about the fate of the morality police. However, the regime appeared to have doubled down, putting journalists on trial for reporting Amini’s death and executing protesters by hanging.

Iranian authorities this week have denied claims that Geravand fell into a coma Sunday after a confrontation with officers enforcing the Islamic dress code. However, an Iranian-Kurdish rights group called Hengaw posted a photo of her unconscious at a Tehran hospital where she was taken following the incident.

“We are following her case closely. She is in coma at Intensive Care Unit of the hospital and her condition is critical…her relatives said there is a heavy presence of plain clothes at the hospital,” one of the activists in Iran said.

Meanwhile, The Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) shared CCTV footage of Geravand, not wearing a hijab, accompanied by two female friends walking toward a train on a metro platform. Upon entering the train, one of the girls is seen immediately backing off and reaching for the ground, before another girl is dragged unconscious from the train by passengers, who lay her on flat on the platform.

The footage has not immediately been authenticated by Reuters, and there has not been an immediate response from Iran’s interior ministry to a request for comment about the alleged confrontation between Geravand and authorities.

Further, Iranian media reported that an Iranian journalist was briefly arrested on Monday when she went to the hospital to inquire about Geravand’s situation.

In a separate video posted on IRNA, Geravand’s parents said that their daughter had suffered a drop in blood pressure, lost her balance, and hit her head inside the metro train car.

Rights groups on social media have called on Iranian authorities to publish footage from inside the train car.


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