Iran School Sex-Abuse Scandal Unleashes #MeToo-Type Outpouring

(Bloomberg) -- Iranians sexually abused as children are sharing their experiences by co-opting the #MeToo hashtag, following a scandal at a Tehran school.

On Tuesday night Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, announced that he had instructed judges to hand down the strongest possible sentence if a supervisor is convicted on charges of raping or sexually abusing at least 16 boys at the school in the west of the capital.

The scandal has unleashed a public outcry over the school’s response to the case, and has prompted a debate over how sexual abuse is addressed in Iran, where the subject is rarely openly discussed.

By Wednesday evening, hundreds of Iranian men and women were using the #MeToo hashtag to share their experiences, some recounting attacks they said they’d kept secret for years.

“Twenty-five years ago I was subjected to sexual abuse twice. I can still remember everything that happened and I still haven’t told anyone #metoo,” tweeted Iman Paknahad.

“I was seven years old and I even didn’t know my left hand from my right,” wrote Reza Ghahremani. “Nobody knows what happened to me but I still feel sick over it.”

Some supporters of hardline conservative politics responded to the stories by linking sexual abuse to immodest dress, a jab at Iranian women who want to see laws on mandatory veiling reformed.

“Aren’t you the ones who enjoy being out and about in society without hejab?” wrote a Twitter user who goes by the name of Leila Feyzi. “Well, others don’t mind it, either, and even really like to rape you, you’re permitting them.”

Her post triggered thousands of replies, most expressing outrage but some voicing support.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.