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Iran Police Arrests Man Named For Tens Of Rapes On Social Media

Iran -- Tehran Police Chief Brigadier General Hossein Rahimi
Iran -- Tehran Police Chief Brigadier General Hossein Rahimi

Tehran Police Chief Hossein Rahimi said on Tuesday that authorities have arrested Keyvan Emamverdi, a former art student of Tehran University accused of raping several students. Dozens of survivors have emerged in recent days and named him on social media, particularly on Twitter.

Survivors say Emamverdi, who also owned a bookshop close to the university, lured them to his house on various pretexts, got them intoxicated and allegedly raped them.

Rahimi said the arrest was made after "intensive investigations" that followed women speaking out against Emamverdi on social media, and urged other survivors to lodge complaints with the police or through attorneys, assuring them that their identity would be protected to protect them from stigma.

After one of Emamverdi’s alleged victims named him on Twitter with the #rape hashtag, at least 20 others joined in to expose Emamverdi as their assailant. One of Emamverdi’s cousins also came forth to say she had always been intimidated by him as a child, even fearing that he would molest her.

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Following the arrest, Twitter users celebrated the change-making effects of survivors speaking out on social media against Emamverdi.

In the past few days on Persian Twitter, #rape has been among the top ten most used hashtags, with several celebrities and a well-known painter and art instructor accused of committing acts of sexual violence against women. A number of same-sex cases also circulated, with one involving a female student who accused a female teacher of sexual assault, as well as men recounting their own assaults that occurred during their two-year compulsory military service by superiors or other soldiers.

The Iranian social media campaign against sexual abuse was inspired by the global Me Too movement, which took over social media in 2017.