Legal Status of Children in the Woman, Life, Freedom Movement: A Second Report by the Hengaw Legal Team

This is the second report in a series by Hengaw Organization for Human Ri

14 October 2023 13:45


This is the second report in a series by Hengaw Organization for Human Rights that explores the legal situation of children who participate in the Woman, Life, Freedom Movement. The report gives an overview of the human rights violations and challenges that these children face, based on Hengaw’s data and evidence. The report also points out the flaws and gaps in the current legal system that fail to protect and support these children.

Hengaw’s legal team conducted the research for this report, which documented the cases of over 400 children who were kidnapped by security forces in various Kurdish cities since the Woman, Life, Freedom movement began in September 2022. The team verified the identities and details of 192 of these children, who were all held between September 16, 2022 and February 1, 2023. Out of these 192 children, 33 were girls and 159 were boys. Some of the kidnapped children were only 10 to 12 years old, which is a serious violation of their rights and dignity.


Based on the research findings, the city of Javanrud had the highest number of reported child abduction cases, with 30 incidents. Following Javanrud, the cities of Sanandaj and Saqqez reported 21 and 14 cases of kidnapped children, respectively.


The abduction of children in different provinces of Iran is summarized as follows:

Kurdistan province had the highest number of cases, with 77 incidents or 40% of the total.
Kermanshah province followed with 27% of the cases.
West Azarbaijan province had 22% of the cases.
Ilam province had the lowest number of cases, with 10%.


The breakdown of abducted boys and girls by province is as follows:

Ilam province: 4 girls and 16 boys
Kermanshah province: 8 girls and 44 boys
Kurdistan province: 15 girls and 62 boys
West Azarbaijan province 4 girls and 38 boys
Other regions of Iran: 1 girl

Hengaw’s legal team persistently examines the situation of children who have been seized by security agencies. According to the latest investigation, a significant number of these children have been released after being detained for several days or weeks under dubious pretexts, such as being forced to give commitments or, in some cases, paying bail. However, these children are in a critical state, characterized by their reluctance to interact and severe isolation, which has caused significant mental distress. This situation has posed significant challenges for conducting interviews with these children and their families.


Children have the right to special protection within legal systems, regardless of whether they are accused of a crime or not. This protection includes various aspects, such as limiting the use of pretrial detention, ensuring immediate contact with their family, preventing any form of physical or psychological abuse, and providing suitable legal assistance and representation according to the child’s situation.

However, Hengaw learned that most of the children who were abducted faced harsh interrogations, where most of their protection rights were violated. Moreover, these children were denied most of the basic standards of detention that adults are entitled to, such as informing their family, getting medical check-ups, and accessing legal services.


The Islamic Republic of Iran has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that pretrial detention of children should be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time. The national laws of the Islamic Republic also reflect this principle in Article 287 of the Criminal Procedure Law, which allows for the release of a child or adolescent to a parent or guardian, unless there are exceptional reasons to detain them during the preliminary investigation.

However, we have observed that the fundamental rights of children are not respected throughout the judicial process. In particular, we are concerned that some children have been brought before the Revolutionary Court, which has jurisdiction over crimes against national security and other serious offences. According to Iranian criminal procedural law, children facing such charges should be tried in Criminal Court 1, which operates as a Juvenile Court and provides legal protections and privileges for children. Unfortunately, in most cases, this procedure has been violated and children have been subjected to the Revolutionary Court, which does not meet the minimum standards of a fair trial.



The PDF download link for the names list.

Read more on this context