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A #MeToo Awakening Stirs in Iran - Press "Enter" to skip to content

A #MeToo Awakening Stirs in Iran

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In his art classes, the former students said, he asked the women to sit on his lap when he reviewed their work, pressed against them while teaching, touched their bodies, made lewd comments and shared explicit details of a fascination with adolescent girls.

Mehrnaz, 54, said he made her sit on his lap and caressed her thighs. Atty, 30, said he had locked her in his office and forcibly kissed her. Another said he asked the color of her underwear as he touched her.

Afarin, a Tehran teacher, said she had been molested repeatedly 30 years ago, at age 13, by Mr. Aghdashloo, who would press his groin against her and touch her thighs while teaching painting technique. She had been too terrified to tell her parents, she said, and still avoids the street where Mr. Aghdashloo held class.

“I feel relieved that a man who has abused so many women and girls is finally being exposed,” she said.

Laleh Sabouri, a 50-year-old actress and television star, took art lessons with Mr. Aghdashloo for two years. Days after Ms. Omatali’s Twitter posting, Ms. Sabouri tweeted that most women were terrified of being alone with him and that accusations of rape would be “befitting.” Mr. Aghdashloo’s lawyer said he had taken legal action over that tweet, calling it “baseless.”

One of Mr. Aghdashloo’s teaching assistants, who helped manage his workshops for 12 years, said she had witnessed frequent misbehavior by him toward female students and that some had complained to her. She had confronted him and he replied that women should consider his affection a privilege, the assistant recalled. She ultimately resigned, she said, because he had assaulted her.

Ms. Omatali’s account struck a nerve among Iranian female journalists. Several said the advice in newsrooms was that no woman should interview Mr. Aghdashloo alone.


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