British-Iranian academic who escaped Iran accused of sexual assault

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A British-Iranian anthropologist who recently escaped from Iran has been accused of being a sexual predator after several of his alleged victims came forward to warn that he should not be allowed to work with women.

Kameel Ahmady, who recently told of his perilous escape from Iran, has reportedly been accused of sexual assault and harassment by a number of women leading to his suspension from Iran’s Sociology Association.

Ahmady is known for work on child marriage, female genital mutilation and LGBT communities in Iran.

Four women have separately claimed to the Guardian that the academic assaulted them, and others have made allegations of repeated sexual harassment.

The women’s accounts were supported by friends and colleagues, saying they were told about three of the alleged assaults and multiple cases of alleged harassment before survivors made their stories public.

In a now deleted post on social media addressing the accusations, he apologised for “mistakes” in the workplace and for “hurting people with my relaxed attitude to relationships”.

According to The Guardian, the women were prompted to speak out after Ahmady told a heroic story of his escape from the clutches of a brutal regime, giving multiple media interviews in the UK.

They say they fear that when he restarts research, other women could be at risk. Although he cannot return to Iran, many of the issues he has studied affect cross-border communities in the region, where he could continue working.

“When I heard about his other [alleged]victims, and the fact that they were being largely, if not completely ignored, I could not bottle it up any longer,” said one woman, who is speaking publicly about her experience for the first time.

“Every single thing I know about [Ahmady] makes their testimonies credible. He is a predator and a serial abuser. I am so afraid that he will go on to have other opportunities to work with vulnerable women, and hurt them the way he hurt me.”

Ahmady said in a statement that the accusations were “baseless slander” organised by professional rivals and the Iranian state in an attempt to smear him and undermine his work.

He also said two accusers had been in consensual relationships with him. He did not say which ones or how he had identified them from anonymous accounts.

Some of the claims were first made public last year, when the global #MeToo movement found voice in Iran in an outpouring of accusations against prominent figures, including Ahmady.

At least seven allegations against him were published anonymously on social media accounts in August and September last year.

That led to an investigation by Iran’s Sociology Association, which suspended his membership and ended his role as secretary of the Children Sociological Studies Group after finding that “at the minimum, some abuse of power had occurred”.

Ahmady said the accusations had not been tested in court, and described them as part of a campaign to “silence my voice”, which involved the Iranian security forces as well as personal enemies in academia. (Source: The Guardian)

 

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