US hits Iranian officials with sanctions for abusing women’s rights

Activists hold placards reading "Woman, Life, Freedom" with portraits of women who were killed in Iran, during a demonstration to mark the International Women's Day, in London, March 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Activists hold placards reading "Woman, Life, Freedom" with portraits of women who were killed in Iran, during a demonstration to mark the International Women's Day, in London, March 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

WASHINGTON — The US is imposing more sanctions on Iran, hitting people and firms accused of violating women’s rights during nationwide anti-government protests over the treatment of young women and girls.

Included in the sanctions are two prison officials, several firms that manufacture equipment for Iranian law enforcement, the commander in chief of the Iranian army and others.

Nationwide protests first erupted over the September 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in the custody of Iran’s morality police. She was accused of violating Iran’s strict dress code for women by wearing her headscarf improperly. Those protests have continued for months.

Subsequently, a series of suspected poisonings at girls’ schools across the country, which sickened hundreds of students, fueled claims about the violation of women and girls’ rights and prompted protests.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says in a statement that the US government “remains deeply concerned that Iranian authorities continue to suppress dissent and peaceful protest, including through mass arrests, sham trials, hasty executions, the detention of journalists, and the use of sexual violence as a means of protest suppression.”

Brian Nelson, Treasury’s under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, says in a statement that Iran’s government “treats women as second-class citizens and attempts to suppress their voices by any means.”

“We will continue to take action against the regime, which perpetuates abuse and violence against its own citizens — especially women and girls,” Nelson says.

The latest sanctions are imposed in coordination with the European Union, United Kingdom and Australia, with the announcement purposely made on International Women’s Day.

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