Skip to main content

US issues new Iran sanctions over violence against women, girls

Among those sanctioned were two senior officials in Iran’s prison system accused of serious human rights abuses against women and girls.
An exterior view of the building of US Department of the Treasury is seen on March 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration imposed sanctions Wednesday on several Iranian officials and entities it said were linked to serious human rights abuses against women and girls. 

Since widespread anti-government protests erupted in Iran over the Sept. 16 death in morality police custody of 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini, the administration has issued 10 rounds of sanctions tied to the regime’s violent clampdown and online censorship of the protests. The latest sanctions, which came on International Women’s Day, were imposed in coordination with similar actions by the European Union, United Kingdom and Australia. 

On Wednesday the Treasury Department designated two Iranian prison officials, Ali Chaharmahali and Dariush Bakhshi, who it said were complicit in the rape, torture and mistreatment of inmates in their custody. 

During Chaharmahali’s tenure as warden of the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran, female inmates were frequently threatened with rape, the department said in a news release. Under Dariush Bakhshi’s oversight, officials at the Orumiyeh Central Prison reportedly coerced female inmates into having sexual relations in exchange for better treatment.  

Also blacklisted by the Treasury was Mahdi Amiri, an official in the prosecutor general’s office described as central to the Iranian government’s efforts to restrict internet access. As images of women burning their hijabs went viral this September, Iranian authorities began blocking websites and access to social media apps in order to quell the protests that were fast spreading across Iran’s 31 provinces. 

The package of new sanctions also took aim at top Iranian army commander Sayyed Abdolrahim Mousavi, whose forces reportedly fired machine guns at anti-government protesters in November 2019, and Habib Shahsavari, a high-ranking IRGC leader linked to detention and torture in West Azerbaijan Province. 

In addition, the Treasury issued sanctions on three Iranian companies for supplying Iranian Law Enforcement Forces with riot control equipment and enabling its crackdown on protesters. 

Brian Nelson, Treasury's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, vowed the United States would continue holding accountable those who commit violence against Iran’s women and girls. 

“The United States, along with our partners and allies, stand with the women of Iran, who advocate for fundamental freedoms in the face of a brutal regime that treats women as second-class citizens and attempts to suppress their voices by any means,” Nelson said in a statement. 

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and First Lady Jill Biden will recognize the women and girls of Iran during the annual International Women of Courage Award ceremony at the White House. 

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in