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25th April 2023, 14:28:13 UTC

Millions of schoolgirls at risk of poisoning

The rights to education, health and life of millions of schoolgirls are at risk amid ongoing chemical gas attacks deliberately targeting girls’ schools in Iran.

Since November 2022, thousands of schoolgirls have been poisoned and hospitalised. Since November 2022, more than 100 schools have been targeted, some more than once. The attacks were first reported in Qom province and have since spread to other provinces and become more frequent with multiple schools attacked daily.

These attacks have left schoolgirls hospitalized with symptoms including coughing, difficulty in breathing, nose and throat irritation, heart palpitation, headache, nausea, vomiting and numbness in limbs. Some parents have removed their daughters from school fearing for their safety.

The authorities have failed to adequately investigate and end the attacks and dismissed girls’ symptoms as “stress”, “excitement” and/or “mental contagion”.

Since news of the attacks first emerged, the authorities sought to coverup their gravity and scale and have yet to carry out effective and independent investigations or take meaningful steps to end them.

The poisonings appear to be a coordinated campaign to punish schoolgirls for their peaceful participation in nationwide protests that erupted in mid-September 2022, including through acts of resistance such as removing their mandatory hijabs and showing their hair in public while in school uniform.

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