Morality police men and women prepare for patrol in 2007, when they began to crack down and arrest women
Morality police on patrol in Iran. AFP News

An Iranian teenage girl who fell into a coma after being allegedly assaulted by the country's morality police is now "brain dead", according to Iranian state media.

Armita Geravand, a 16-year-old girl, was left fighting for her life after being "physically attacked" by Iranian authorities for not wearing a hijab earlier this month.

The victim suffered "severe injuries" after being attacked by Iran's morality police on the Tehran subway, a rights group said.

The Kurdish-focused rights group Hengaw alleged that she was attacked for violating the stringent hijab laws. She lost consciousness after being assaulted by two officers at the Shohada metro station in Tehran.

CCTV footage from the metro station shows the girl being pulled unconscious from the train. The head of the Tehran Metro Operating Company said that the footage shows no sign of any physical or verbal confrontation, per a report by IRNA.

A few weeks ago, a journalist who had gone to assess and inquire about Geravand's situation was briefly arrested, per local media reports. Her parents, too, have said that their daughter's blood pressure might have dropped, causing her to faint, but they "are not too sure".

Hengaw officials claimed that her parents gave the statement "in the presence of high-ranking security officers" and "under considerable pressure".

However, Iranian authorities have dimissed all allegations stating that she was hospitalised due to low blood pressure.

"Follow-ups on the latest health condition of Armita Geravand indicate that her condition of being brain dead seems certain despite the efforts of the medical staff," the state-aligned Tasnim news agency reported on Sunday.

The case has put Iranian authorities on high alert as they fear people might again take to the streets the way they did in Mahsa Amini's case last year.

Thousands of men and women took to the streets in Iran after a woman, who was arrested for breaking hijab laws, died in police custody in 2022. The 22-year-old woman was on a visit to Tehran when she was detained by Iran's morality police, responsible for enforcing its rigid dress code.

The woman was detained for allegedly breaking hijab rules. According to witnesses, Amini was thrashed while being taken to a detention centre. Some reports claimed that the police hit her head with a baton and banged it against one of their vehicles.

Amini died after falling into a coma following her detention by the morality police. Her death sparked protests all across Iran, with women at the helm of these demonstrations.

Cultural restrictions have been a regular feature of Iranian life since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The state's morality police roam the streets and have the right to arrest women who are not wearing a hijab and detain men with unconventional hairstyles.

The mandatory dress code requires women to cover their hair and neck with a headscarf. The morality police, formally called "Gasht-e Ershad" (Guidance Patrols), have the power to stop and detain women whom they think are not properly dressed.

Despite last year's massive protests against the mandatory hijab laws, the Iranian authorities passed a bill on the wearing of this piece of clothing.

The Iranian parliament passed the controversial bill in September this year. It has increased prison terms and fines for women and girls if they break its strict dress code.

Women found dressed "inappropriately" face up to 10 years in jail under the bill. It still needs to be cleared by the Guardian Council to become law.

Meanwhile, UN human rights experts have warned the bill "could be described as a form of gender apartheid, as authorities appear to be governing through systemic discrimination with the intention of suppressing women and girls into total submission".

Under the current hijab laws, women who do not adhere to the strict hijab codes risk a prison term of between 10 days and two months or a fine of between 5,000 and 500,000 rials.