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After Revealing Workplace Sexual Harassment, an Iranian Newscaster Says It's ‘Time to Break Free’

Iranians on social media have been following the firestorm that ensued after newscaster Sheen Shirani, who works for the Iranian state's English-language network Press TV, came out with damaging evidence that her executives were subjecting her to sexual harassment.

On 5 February, Shirani posted a series of recordings from telephone conversations as well as messages from Facebook messenger and WhatsApp highlighting unsolicited advances by Hamid Reza Emadi, the broadcaster's news editor.

Emadi was added to a European Union blacklist for human rights violations by the European Court of Justice in 2013. Emadi was identified by Maziar Bahari, an Iranian reporter now living in exile, that Emadi took part in his interrogations and forced false confessions while locked away at Iran's Evin prison. Press TV aired a series of confessions by tortured detainees prior to Emadi landing on the EU sanctions list.

Shirani published the messages on Facebook. That same evening, she reported that Facebook had removed her post for not following Facebook's Community Standards. Emadi had sent her multiple requests to remove her recordings beforehand, but it is unclear whether there is a correlation between Emadi's objections and Facebook's removal.

Shirani's Facebook post after she discovers the evidence she posted against her former Press TV managers were removed by Facebook.

Shirani's Facebook post after she discovers the evidence she posted against her former Press TV managers was removed by Facebook.

In an video interview (featured at the top of this post) with Masih Alinejad, an Iranian activist journalist living in exile, Shirani further explained Emadi's physical harassment in the office.

She also accused Press TV studio manager Payam Afshar of sexual harassment. After rejecting his advances, Afshar reportedly subjected Shirani to unjustified targeting, asking other employees to report on Shirani's petty infractions, such as arriving a second or two late for her broadcasts.

Shirani said she turned to Emadi for advice on how to deal with Afshar. After the problem with Afshar was solved with Emadi's help, Emadi reportedly reasoned his sexual advances under the rubric of his professional support for her:

I’ve always helped you. I’ve always been there for you. Whenever you wanted something, I’ve helped you. I’m not asking you to kill someone. You can help me as a friend. You can have sex with me as a friend.

In the recording Shirani shared with journalist Alinejad, Emadi is heard requesting that Shirani go to bed with him because he feels restless. After she tells him to make these requests of his wife, Emadi reasons, “If I could find my wife I would not ask you.”

This case highlights the precariousness of women's roles in Iran's professional settings.

In reaction to harsh criticism on social media accusing Shirani that she had in reality engaged in sexual relations with Emadi, she told Alinejad:

If I wanted to engage in a relationship with Mr. Emadi rest assured I would have reached higher echelons of Press TV rather than working there as a simple woman without a contract; a woman without insurance; a woman running the risk of being made redundant..I would have accumulated a lot of wealth and I simply would not be worrying about my future either, nor that of my son.

According to a report by IranWire, Shirani has left Iran, and her whereabouts unknown. While employed with Press TV, she always wore a hijab, in line with the broadcaster (and country's) strict rules on women's modesty; however, following her departure and accusations, she has presented herself without the headscarf. It's “time to break free,” she wrote on Facebook.

Shirani posts about shedding her hijab and leaving a job that compromised her dignity while forcing her to maintain a Islamic dress code.

Shirani posts about shedding her hijab and leaving a job that compromised her dignity while forcing her to maintain a Islamic dress code.

Press TV released a statement in Persian addressing Shirani's revelations. They explained they had suspended two employees while the investigation into the case continues, but did not indicate whether the two employees were Emadi and Afshar. They also claimed that no formal complaints were made inside of Iran, and the public allegations were part of a political conspiracy meant to undermine Iran's political system.

  • Robert Todd

    Women always use sex to get to higher places and at the end they backstap the person who help them and pretend they are the victimes,

    • The_Sus

      really? so what does the person think they are doing “helping” someone for sex? What about the people bypassed because someone “helped” another person they were having sex with? The “helpers” don’t deserve anybody’s sympathy.

    • mollycruz

      Women often use sex; but more often men are drooling on their shoulders begging for it, as with the above story. Face it buddy, most men are rutting pigs.

  • mollycruz

    It takes generations to throw off misogyny. I experience it every time I call a plumber, for instance. I was quoted $2600, for a task that took me three hours plus shopping time involving replacing thirty dollar’s worth of ducting, some tape, and a few metal unions. I did it myself. One’s ignorance is assumed, but what hurts is that one’s intelligence is also assumed to be that of an idiot. Central America is a place I have felt it as well, in for the exact same reason: men don’t appreciate the fact that inside our skulls, we’re the same. So what does that leave our noble warriors now that peace is taking hold?
    They have no role in the future; that’s their problem. And given the dynamics of modern warfare, the only thing keeping women out of war is that WOMEN DON’T LIKE WAR, and are superior creatures in every way. It’s time for us to have a go at ordering the world; I’d say the guys have had their chance, and blown it out the door.

  • Pingback: ผู้ประกาศข่าวหญิงทีวีอิหร่านแฉถูกล่วงละเมิดทางเพศจากหัวหน้างาน – Serichon()

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