Two women have accused Shahram Gilabadi, an ex-senior official at the IRIB and former deputy to Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf when the latter was Mayor of Tehran, of rape. At the time of writing Gilabadi had not responded to the allegations.
The stories, posted in a series of tweets shared by the Iran MeToo Twitter account, go back to the period when Gilabadi was the director of Tehran Municipality’s communications center.
One of the alleged victims, a journalist based in Iran, claimed to have been raped by Gilabadi during that period. At the time, she said, Gilabadi ran a project called “Night Tours” in which he took a group of people around Tehran after dusk to see the city’s unusual sights. According to her account, he used the pretext of a chance to discover the night-time lives of Tehran’s rough sleepers, known locally as “cardboarders”, to invite her to his office at short notice. He told her, she claimed, that he would show her “a place you have never seen”.
The woman wrote: “It was a couple of nights before Arbaeen [the annual day commemorating 40 days after the martyrdom of Imam Hossein, a Shia religious event] when he rang and told me to go there.
“I said ‘I can’t do it right now. I told you I wanted advance notice.’ He said, ‘Tomorrow morning I’m going for Arbaeen and I’m not in the habit leaving open items on my agenda. So we have to go tonight. Where are you, so I can come and take you there?’”
The manner in which she wrote to her, she said, calmed her at the time. But she claims when she went to his office, he raped her there repeatedly. Afterward, she said, “Once in a while he’d send me texts. When we came across one another at some place or other, he’d behave as if nothing had happened.”
Another alleged victim claimed that Gilabadi used the same “Night Tours” as a pretext to meet and rape her. In her telling, Gilabadi appeared to be a religious man who regularly prayed: “His office was filled with religious stuff”.
This woman also went to his office after he had insisted on the phone. His office, she said, was “in a big government building” and “he always had guards, and several people were always there”. Gilabadi took her to a room that had a bed in it, she said, as well as a prayer mat on the floor, and attacked her there.
The woman claimed that she was terrified and begged him to let her go, but Gilabadi told her: “Look, there is a prayer matt lying over there. I am not violating Sharia. I understand what is forbidden [haram] and what is allowed [halal]. Right now I am going to read the words for Sigheh [temporary marriage] and after that, you can go.” Then, she claimed, “he started to recite something in Arabic and repeatedly asked ‘Consent? Consent?’”. When he then asked her “Do you want to go?”, she said, she replied “Yes” but Gilabadi took that as an answer to the “Consent?” question.
“After that,” she wrote, “sometimes he would text me and because of my job, I saw him at some events. But eventually I couldn’t take it anymore and I didn’t accept any assignment that had anything to do with Shahram Gilabadi, so I wouldn’t have to see him face to face.”
After the incident, she said, she was forced to search for her headscarf so she could leave the building properly veiled.
Gilabadi has held down a litany of other managerial roles, including with the Secretariat of the Expediency Council, at Tehran Radio, and on the boards of the Hamshahri Institute and the Cultural and Artistic Organization of Tehran Municipality. He has also co-organized Ashura mourning events for students across the country and taught at the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults and Soore University in Tehran.