Iranian police violently disrupted a women’s rights protest in Tehran last Monday, beating activists with batons. Accounts vary as to how many protesters were present; the Associated Press reports that 200 women were protesting, 20 of whom, according to the BBC, were arrested. Injuries were also reported, though the number of protesters beaten and the severity of their injuries remain unknown. The activists were protesting a law that permits polygamy and were urging reform of divorce and custody laws.
The BBC reports that onlookers shouted at police as they witnessed the beatings, calling out questions such as “These are our sisters, how can you do this?” and “Why do you take money from the government to beat women like this?” The incident was not mentioned in Iran’s media, which is state-run, but has been prominently featured on Iranian blogs, according to the BBC. The blogs also feature photographs of some of the beatings.
Iranian feminist activists are circulating a petition in support of the protesters. Among those who have signed the petition are five women Nobel Peace Prize laureates: Shirin Ebadi (Iran, 2003), Jodi Williams (United States, 1997), Betty Williams (Ireland, 1997), Wangari Maathai (Kenya, 2004), and Rigoberta Menchu Tum (Guatemala, 1992).