As protests against hijab rage on for three months, Iran security forces, who have led a brutal crackdown on the protestors, are targeting unarmed women with shotgun fire to their faces, breasts and genitals.
Doctors and nurses, treating demonstrators in secret for fear of repurcussions, said they observed a pattern where the women often arrived with different wounds to men, who had shotgun pellets in their legs, buttocks and backs, a report in The Guardian said.
The “birdshot pellets” which security forces fired on protesters from close range targeted women’s faces, breasts and genitals, the report said citing doctors who treated the bullet wounds.
It said that hundreds of young Iranians risk permanent damage due to shots to the eyes of women, men and children were particularly common.
The report said that images accessed by the US media outlet showed people with dozens of tiny “shot” balls lodged deep in their flesh. Men were shot in their legs, buttocks, and backs.
“I treated a woman in her early 20s who was shot in her genitals by two pellets. Ten other pellets were lodged in her inner thigh. These 10 pellets were easily removed, but those two pellets were a challenge, because they were wedged in between her urethra and vaginal opening,” a doctor was quoted as saying.
The authorities were targeting men and women differently as “they wanted to destroy the beauty of these women”.
The medics accused security forces, including the feared pro-regime Basij militia, of ignoring riot control practices like firing at feet and legs to avoid damaging vital organs.
The report comes as Iran carried out its first known execution over the anti-government protests.
At least a dozen other people are currently at risk of execution after being sentenced to hang in connection with the protests, human rights groups warned.
Demonstrations have swept Iran for nearly three months since Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini, 22, died in custody after her arrest by the morality police in Tehran for an alleged breach of the country’s strict hijab dress code for women.
Forces have responded with a crackdown that has killed at least 458 people, including 63 children, according to an updated death toll issued by IHR.