The show, called “Formula One”, invited a couple who had been married for 20 years to speak about their relationship, and the violence within it, with smiles plastered to their faces and their two small children sitting between them. The children were smiling too, but it’s not clear how much they understood or whether they were forced to smile by their father because domestic abusers often target children as well.
The abusive husband spoke first, which should surprise no one, and showed no remorse for the violence inflicted on his wife, explaining that 27 times during their 20-year marriage the violence had been so severe that his wife took refuge at her mother’s house. He even recounted beating his wife on their wedding night to “vent his anger”.
The show’s host then sickeningly praised the couple for staying together despite the abuse, a massive contrast to what you would hope to see, which is the husband led away in handcuffs and the wife and children offered counselling.
This demonstrates the clear message that the state-run media wanted to send: It’s normal for a man to beat his wife and “good” wives will tolerate the abuse. This is a real problem because domestic violence is incredibly common in Iran, with at least 66% of women experiencing violence from their spouses on at least one occasion. However, due to underreporting, these numbers could be much higher.
To be clear, domestic violence may be common in Iran, but there is nothing normal about it.
Parvaneh Salahshouri, the head of the women’s committee in Iran’s Parliament, told ISNA news agency in November 2017 that domestic abuse was “pervasive” in Iran but “few people paid attention to it” partly because women are not encouraged to come forward so the abuse stays hidden and partly because the Iranian regime’s penal code against women institutionalizes injustice.
She said: “If a woman makes a little mistake, it would cause great problems for her, subjecting her to violence. However, when a man makes a huge mistake there is no violence against him.”
The issue of domestic violence is also tied in with the issue of child marriage, with many girls under the age of 18 being forced to marry much older men. This power imbalance means that child brides, a common problem in Iran that the Regime refuses to do anything about, are reluctant to report their abuse to the police.