“Rape and the victim’s future”
In Iran, the punishment for sexual offenders is the death penalty, but women remain extremely vulnerable in a rape case as the harsh punishment does not solve the problems the victim will face within society.
Roghayyeh is a 30 years old girl who was raped in her 20’s by her neighbour’s nephew. Ali was eventually arrested and is serving a prison sentence, awaiting to be publicly executed but Roghayyeh lost her virginity and hope for the future. Iranian society, particularly the legal system, perceives the virginity of an unmarried woman as a signifier of her chastity and for Roghayyeh, losing her virginity outside marriage was perceived as a colossal disaster for both her and her family. Not only it ruined her marriage prospects, but it had an impact on her honour and her father’s honour. Her own brothers also avoided her and considered her a sinner. There is a large rock in the landscape that resembles a couple. A legend tells of a young girl who proposed to a boy and as they hugged each other, being unrelated, villagers believe that God turned them into stone.
In such a closed and fearful culture, women in small villages marry in their adolescence, and Roghayyeh in the rural province of East Azerbaijan was already considered a spinster, spending her days as a recluse, ignored by her own family, doing chores and looking after her young nephews.
She wasn’t Ali’s only victim, yet in such a narrow-minded society she was inevitably doomed and would have been forced to marry an old man or a widower. In an unanticipated change in a sequence of events that changed her fortune, she met Teymour, a man ten years younger, and with the compensation that Roghayyeh received by order of the court, a very large amount paid by the family of the offender, they were able to buy a house in a nearby town and start a new family.