TEHRAN, Iran- In 2012, two individuals previously lashed on two separate occasions were sentenced to death. The first offense resulted in 80 lashes; the second, a similar treatment, totaled 160 lashes. As third time offenders, both were subject to the death penalty under Iranian Sharia law called Hodud.
Lesbianism and theft fall under this third-time ruling. Sodomy, rape and fornication, however, result in immediate ruling for the death penalty.
Alcohol can be accessed through black market vendors, often provided via smuggling.
As reported by The Atlantic, in 2011, 80 percent of the alcohol in the country was smuggled from the Western border, a sum that is averaged to be $730 million each year. 60-80 million liters of alcohol are reportedly smuggled into the country.
Of the alcoholic drinks smuggled, only 20 percent to 30 percent are confiscated. In 2012, government officials reported that smuggling increased by 69 percent.
The 1979 Iranian Revolution prohibited the consumption of alcohol.
Today, the Iranian government noted that alcoholism in Iran may be an escalating problem. Instances of drunk driving and ensuing license confiscations can be sourced to this problem. 2011 saw the confiscation of 829 licenses by the police. In Tehran alone, of the individuals stopped by the police, 26 percent were found to be drunk.
Alternative sources are the Armenian and Christian minority community, who are allowed to consume and produce alcohol in the conservative country.
The head of the Iranian Social Work Society explained the psychology behind such habits. In cultures where there are moderate guidelines regarding alcohol consumption, a culture of when-and-where it is appropriate to imbibe is created. Alternatively, a more hard-lined atmosphere and outward taboo of alcohol consumption blur the distinction between a few drinks and many drinks.
Combined with an idolization of Western culture, facilitated by clandestinely viewing television, listening to Western music and using social media at the security of one’s home, where drinking is a facet, Iranians may turn to drinking due to their Occidental counterparts, notes columnist Omed Memarian.
The final alcoholic option is arak. Often made as a homebrew, Arak consists of 45 percent pure ethanol. The amateur distillation process, made from raisins, can be deadly to its consumers.
Reports of resulting deaths in June 2013 at Tehran included six individuals dead from arak consumption with 350 falling ill.
The Iranian deputy health minister attests such alcoholism to the repressive regime. Iranians live in a society where there is a threat of war and a poor economy. Alcohol proves as a measure of escapism.
The continuing danger is that alcohol brand prices are rising and may eventually lead to more turning towards arak.
– Miles Abadilla
Sources: The Atlantic, BBC, The Economist, The Guardian
Photo: Coed Magazine