Women are leading social movements across Iran

Miranda Neusner, Contributing Writer

Protests in Iran have gained traction across the globe for the past three months, and women are on the frontline.

Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old, was tortured and killed at the hands of the Iranian Morality Police on Sept. 16. The Morality Police is a sector of the Iranian Law Enforcement Forces designed to arrest women who do not follow the country’s strict guidelines for traditional Islamic dress code.

Amini was targeted because her hijab was worn too loosely, exposing a strand of hair.

Amini has become the face of female resistance in Iran, women who are taking to the streets to burn their hijabs, cut their hair and surrender their complicity with the authoritarians’ repressive nature.

“There have been various points of civil unrest in recent years, most notably in 2017, 2018 and 2019, but this is the biggest round of protests by far,” AP Howell ’24, an international relations major, said. “Young women from all over the state, from all walks of life are fed up with mandatory veiling, and many men as well have begun to follow suit in defending women’s rights to choose their own form of modesty as it relates to their religious beliefs.”

And it’s not just women. Men have joined hand-in-hand in support, rallying for the end of the regime and the death of dictator Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The call for change has stretched widely to resist many aspects of the regime, including human rights violations against Kurds and Kurdistan provinces.

Iranian officials have responded with violent pushback, arresting, tear gassing and shooting at protestors in participation. The Iranian government has denied allegations of the militant response, and have falsely pinned Amini’s death on her history of health conditions.

As the death toll climbs, the government has cut off access to the internet and VPNs to contain information and obstruct the reality of the situation from onlookers around the world.

“What this might mean in the long run, I am afraid I am unable to predict. My hope, however, is that the noise young working class men and women have been able to make in recent years will spread throughout the world so that the greater international community will know what they are being put through and the Iranian government will be forced into a regime change,” Howell said.

But the movement is trickling from the hem, stretching far beyond Iranian borders.

In the United States and Europe, protesters gather to rally in solidarity with the women of Iran. The Biden Administration has voiced its support for the movement, and have imposed sanctions on entities of the Iranian government for the maltreatment of protestors.

The European Union has also imposed sanctions on Iran and has demanded total transparency on part of the regime. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has also condemned the human rights violations, calling for an end to the “unnecessary or disproportionate force” and for an investigation on Amini’s death.

The women of Iran remain resilient in the face of terror and violence. Their persistence sets an inspiring precedent for women across the Middle East. In past generations, men have been the cause of political revolution. In 2022, it is the women of Iran who stand courageously in the wake of a violent regime, and their legacies will be felt for the generations to come.

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