The body of a woman who had accused an Iranian member of parliament of rape was found in her home in East Azarbaijan Province.
There are various speculations concerning the cause of Zahra Navidpour’s death though it is still not clear why the 28 year old died in her home on Sunday. Her family are still waiting on an autopsy report from the medical examiner.
According to the Human Rights Activists News Agency, she had told the human rights group that she was constantly being threatened by her rapist, Salman Khodadadi, the chairman of the parliament’s Social Commission and those affiliated with him.
The human rights group said that Zahra Navidpour had written a letter to the judge presiding over her rape suit case stating that her “life was in danger”.
The Human Rights Activists News Agency has published substantial evidence including her letter in their report.
The human rights group said that Zahra Navidpour constantly informed them in the past few months of threats against her life by Salman Khodadadi, some of which she had recorded.
The report said that the young woman had taken her case to Iran’s Judiciary and every other government body she thought would help her.
The first court session to see to her rape complaint was carried out without her presence and only with the presence of Khodadadi. According to Zahra Navidpour, it became clear in the second session that Khodadadi had denied all the charges. The second session was held without Khodadadi’s presence.
“At first the judge accused me of lying and said that something like this was not possible and that he did it with my consent,” she told the human rights group.
Zahra Navidpour said that the judge wanted to close the case before she gave him an audio file of Khodadadi’s call to her in which he confesses to the rape and threatens her.
She also said that she was asked very personal questions by the judge and that “she felt nauseous from shame”.
In the next court session on October 6, 2018, which was held by the 1st Branch of the Tehran Penal Court, Salman Khodadadi was present with five lawyers while Zahra had none.
Zahra Navidpour said that at first Khodadadi denied all the charges but when the evidence was brought forth, he got annoyed and confessed.
“I did commit rape and I’ve done it a couple of times because I wanted to!” he told the court angrily.
The MP was released on bail an hour later. The judge told Navidpour that due to the evidence, a decision would be issued in 10 days and that they would contact her.
The case was never pursued after that. She even contacted the Guardian Council, a powerful body tasked with approving Majlis (Iran’s parliament) candidates among other things.
“It’s better that you go on with your life and forget the whole thing,” she was told.
It was after her formal complaint that constant threats by her rapist started.
“It’s been around two weeks that I’ve been threatened by (Salmas Khodadadi) and his people. They tell me that I have to retract my complaint and say that the head of the Malekan Revolutionary Guards Corps made me file the complaint,” she wrote to the judge in a letter in October 2018.
She said that they had threatened her that they would peel her skin off if she did not.
On October 29, she once again told the human right group that her life was in danger.
“None of the government bodies care what happens to me. They only think of him. I have no security. I’ve been hiding out for the past eight days because I’m afraid for my life. Who should I talk to? Who will listen to me?” she said.
In another letter to the human rights group, she said that when pursuing her case, a member of the intelligence agency had suggested that she have a relationship with him as well or “work as a prostitute” to make money.
The young woman who is from Malekan in the northwest province of West Azarbaijan said that she was sexually abused and raped by Salman Khodadadi for four years.
The former Commander of the Malekan Revolutionary Guards Corps has been arrested and detained a number of times on charges of moral corruption, having an illegitimate relationship, and raping his secretary and another woman in his constituency. Reports indicate that many other women have also been raped by him but refuse to come forward out of fear for their lives. Despite all the official rape charges, he has been voted into Majlis five times.
Rape is a capital punishment in Iran with most offenders being hanged in public squares amid widespread media attention.