Today marks the 40th day after the killing of Mahsa Jina Amini on Sep 16, 2022. She was a 22-year-old woman taken into custody and killed by “morality” police for her “unsatisfactory” hejab*. This unofficial police force has been oppressing and assaulting the women of Iran for years and it has only grown more violent and absurd with time. Oppression of women in Iran is not limited to how they are required to dress (failure to comply has led to them being arrested, lashed, and even killed,) it dictates their eligibility for jobs (illegal to be a singer or a pilot,) legal age of marriage (9 years,) traveling abroad and divorce (both only permitted by the husband/male guardian.) Over 40 years of such gender apartheid under the Islamic Republic fueled unprecedented uprisings across Iran that are led by women – and now by female students. Since the day of Mahsa Amini’s death, daily large-scale protests with the slogan ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ (‘Zan, Zendegi, Azadi’,) have evolved into revolution-seeking rallies and strikes; people of Iran are demanding freedom, a once and for all end to the current regime which is the cause of years of growing injustice, corruption, abuse of human rights and dictatorship. However, unfortunately but as expected, this regime is implementing every possible oppressive method to silence the freedom movements:
- Extreme slowdown/shutdown of internet across the country
- Suppressing voices of Iranians and allies on social media (especially Instagram)
- Beating, arresting, assaulting, and shooting unarmed civilians (including teenagers and children!)
- Home arrests, torture and execution of activists, athletes, artists, and intellectuals
- Raiding universities and schools (even elementary) followed by killings, beatings, and assault of female students
- Intentionally set fire and gunshots in the notorious prison, Evin, where the majority of detainees are held as “political prisoners” and under very harsh conditions (e.g., no medical attention even for severe injuries)
- Genocide in regions with ethnic minorities
And the list continues. Throughout all this, the government completely denies everything (for example, claims absurd excuses for the rapes and killings of young women, such as suicide and overdose,) continues to violate basic human rights every hour of the day, and somehow prevents a wider global span of media and action regarding the outrageous injustice and the ongoing revolution in Iran.
Nonetheless, Iranians inside and outside Iran are doing their best to draw attention to the bravery and resilience of people of Iran who are chanting the powerful slogan ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ wanting their freedom back and the Islamic Republic gone. As a result of their efforts, several news streams have had articles and reports on this historic revolution by the women of Iran. Furthermore, there have been two Global Days of Action for Iran, on Oct 1st and 22nd, where nearly 100,000 people rallied for the freedom of Iran and showed support and solidarity with Iranian women who are putting their lives on the line for an end to the systematic oppression of women (and gender/ethnic minorities) in Iran.
Although we are grateful for the authorities’ statements and public attention so far, it is not enough. This women-led revolution is facing unimaginably tyrannical subjugation and needs the support of not just all women, but all humanity. The western governments, above all the ones standing for human rights, must immediately condemn the brutal Iranian regime with strong actions, and hold it accountable for the numerous crimes against humanity that are not to be tolerated in the 21st century. In order to do so, there are simple and quick actions you can take:
- Sign the petitions that are addressing these concerns:
- Sign the open letter from global women leaders and advocates urging the UN Member States to head the call of Iranian women and remove the Islamic Republic from the UN commission on the Status of Women
- Continue to learn** and talk about Iran’s women’s revolution in the making, tweet and post tagging UN associates and political figures to demand effective action
- Call your senators and representatives and have them:
- Address the petitions
- Work to modify the sanctions on Iran to be imposed on the members of Islamic Republic government and its security apparatus (instead of targeting the Iranian people)
At last and again, I would like to encourage you to stay informed and active about Iranian women making history, to help be their voice, and to stand with them and all the women around the world – in words and actions – to own their agency and freedom.
*Hejab is used here to better describe the “Islamic” dress code in Iran. Conventionally, hijab is used when globally talking about Muslim women veiling their hair, neck, and chest; headscarves are a frequently used form of hijab. Hejab, on the other hand, is a “modesty” rule prescribed in Iran to a woman’s body from head to toe. Thus, policing the Iranian women’s hejab is not only controlling how they cover their head, neck, and chest, but also the attire over their torso, arms, legs and even ankles.
**Note that some sources are unofficial due to internet shutdown and journalists arrests in Iran.