There is no official statement from Iranian authorities about the second woman, who was found in the early morning on January 1, but local residents say that her name was Fariba, she was around 50 years old, and she was a Kurdistan native.
Students from the University of Shiraz have now threatened to sue any official who failed to protect vulnerable people in an open letter to the director general of the Welfare Organization for the province of Shiraz and the Drug Control Organization.
The letter read: “You must doubt the legitimacy of your position when in your domain a woman dies because she had to sleep in a cardboard box and froze to death. You must also doubt that you are a Muslim if after hearing this news you can lie down next to your family and have a good night’s sleep. Know this: considering your propaganda that says you serve the deprived and the downtrodden, this issue is not going to go away and, as in the past, this is not going to be either the first or the last case of its kind.”
The students also advised that the centre for treating and sheltering homeless addicts has a $2 million budget but is only taking care of 240 addicts.
They wrote: “Likewise, a centre has been set up in Shiraz for keeping female addicts, but your organization has refused to shelter them. If this is true, then you are guilty of the death of this woman and you will be held accountable both in this world and the next one.”
As mentioned, Fariba is the second homeless woman, known locally as “card-boarders” because they have nowhere to sleep but cardboard containers, who was frozen to death in the neighbourhood.
Golbas Alvandi was found in an alleyway on December 30 and her death sparked a social media campaign using the hashtag “Shelter for Golbas” where users advocated for more warm shelters for homeless people. But the man who found her laments that the death of homeless people in these parts is far too common.
Following the deaths of these two women, one women’s rights activist asked for a leave of absence from her government job after Alvandi’s death and began speaking to local residents and officials to piece together these women’s lives.
Noora N., who has been helping homeless people for 10 years, said: “You walk as far as you can until, in the depth of back alleys, you reach a place that is really frightening. At the end of a very long and narrow alleyway, I came across a young man and a young woman.
They were entirely out of it. I asked the girl a question and when she started speaking it was quite clear they were high on drugs. It seemed that the man had sexual designs on her. She said the area was a temporary home to at least 100 drug addicts who hide behind walls to take drugs and who spend the nights there.”
It is clear that the Iranian authorities are not doing enough to help the homeless or those addicted to drugs, which will only lead to more drugs.