March 16, 2023

Chemical Attacks: A New Intimidation Tactic Against Women in Iran

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by Farhad Rezaei, Senior Research Fellow

It has been over three months since chemical attacks against Iranian schoolgirls began, leading to the poisoning of over 5000 female students.

These assaults seem to be part of a systematic and coordinated campaign aimed at suppressing teenage involvement in protests. Some observers are holding the Islamic regime responsible for the attacks while others attribute them to mass hysteria and anxiety. The article “Are Iranian schoolgirls being poisoned by toxic gas?”published by BBC News, stands out in this context.

According to the piece, several “key epidemiological factors,” including “the fact that it has been predominantly affecting schoolgirls,” suggest that these incidents were not a chain of poisonings but were instead a case of “mass sociogenic illness” in which symptoms spread among a group with no obvious biomedical cause.

Such an evaluation is problematic for various reasons. First, the reason the poisonings have predominantly affected schoolgirls is that the incidents occurred exclusively in female schools…