Girls Attending Schools in Iran Suspected Victims of Poison Attacks

March 6,2023 : Hundreds of girls in several cities in Iran have been affected by suspected poison attacks that have been ongoing for at least three months. While initially ignored and dismissed by Iranian authorities, the situation changed as more and more schools were affected. It is now suggested that the attacks are intentional, aimed at closing schools for girls in the country. Reports suggest that around 30 schools have been affected so far.

These suspected attacks add to the deteriorating situation of women and girls in Iran, especially following the death of Mahsa Amini, which sparked protests across the country. People have taken to the streets calling for accountability for Mahsa Amini’s death, an end to violence and discrimination against women and girls in Iran, and an end to their compulsory veiling. However, the peaceful protests have been met with excessive use of force, resulting in several fatalities.

The suspected poisonings reportedly started occurring throughout Iran in November 2022 and have escalated in frequency. At least 26 schools were affected in a single day in March 2023. In total, at least 58 schools in eight provinces are said to have been affected, with over 1,000 students falling ill. The Iranian authorities have opened a special investigation and confirmed that the poisonings might constitute criminal and premeditated acts.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has stated that extremist religious groups operating in Iran support a ban on education for girls and women. The suspected poisonings require investigation and urgent response. Those responsible must be brought to justice. However, more needs to be done to address the ever-growing attacks on women and girls in Iran and to ensure that their rights are affirmed and adequately protected.

The trends of violence against women and girls in Iran cannot be tolerated any longer. The international community should support the efforts of Iranians calling for justice and reform to protect women’s and girls’ rights.