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Tuesday, 17 October, 2000, 07:31 GMT 08:31 UK
Rape and murder on rise in Tehran
Women voting in Tehran
Discrimination against women is still rife in Iran
By Iranian affairs analyst Sadeq Saba

New statistics in Iran show an alarming increase in the number of rapes and murders in the capital Tehran.

A government newspaper, Iran, has reported that in the past six months alone 30 women have been murdered - all of them victims of rape.

The official Iranian news agency, IRNA, has also reported that two men have been hanged in public in the holy city of Qom for abducting and raping underage girls.

The evidence is a huge embarrassment for Iran's Islamic authorities.

The new statistics suggest that in every six days a woman in Tehran is raped and murdered.

Young victims

The Iran newspaper says that most of the 30 victims in the past six months were between 25 and 35 years old.

The youngest victim was a 15-year-old girl who was apparently gang-raped and her mutilated body was then left on the outskirts of Tehran.

The faces of all the victims were burned to conceal their identity.

The paper said the victims were mostly runaway girls who fell victim to criminal gangs.

It cited police statistics saying the number of runaways in the capital had risen 30% in the past year, with more than 900 girls being arrested. Police say that most of them were 16 to 17-years-old.

Discrimination

Experts told the paper that one of the main reasons for the higher number of female runaways was discrimination against girls in Iranian households.

It is also believed that many girls who take to the streets are victims of violence at home.

The crisis is so acute in Tehran that the authorities have recently established a safe home for runaway girls.

The Iran paper gave no figures about the number of rape victims in other Iranian cities. But Iranian officials have expressed grave concern in recent months over a rapid rise in prostitution and suicide among women.

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