What were you doing when you were 22? For many young women, 22 is when they are just starting to recover from all the partying they did the year before. It is the age where you finally see graduation from college within your horizons, and you’re a little antsy to figure out your next job or career move. 22 feels like the beginning of life for most women, a product of new possibilities and responsibilities. For Mahsa Amini, however, the age of twenty-two meant the end of her life.
Following the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Iran began requiring women to wear hijabs under religious justification. Appearing publicly without this head covering or improper wear would lead to arrest, sentencing, or fines under Iran’s “hijab and chastity” law. This implementation became another form of control that this country now had over its women, leading to several protests over the years. The law enforcement in Iran referred to as the morality police, do not take this issue lightly. They have a known history of abusive power. Millions of Iranian women and girls live with the fear of being beaten, violated, or murdered for “improper wear.”
On average, the morality police prosecute 18,000 people yearly, and 90 percent of them are women. They have complete control over accessing the length and fit of a woman’s bottoms and dresses, as well as how much makeup they’re wearing that day. If it is not deemed appropriate, the police force is known for slapping women across the face or beating them with batons.
On September 13, Mahsa Amini was arrested by the morality police in Tehran, Iran, for allegedly wearing her hijab too loosely. Three days after her arrest, she was pronounced dead with claims that she had collapsed from a heart attack at the detention center she was taken to. Multiple reports and witnesses, however, have stated that Amini was beaten by the police force, including multiple fatal hits to the head. Amini’s father was prevented from seeing her body at the hospital but has also claimed to have seen glimpses of bruises on her body. Authorities have rejected these allegations and continue to claim that Amini died of natural causes.
In response to Mahsa Amini’s death, multiple protests have sparked nationwide. Iranians took to the streets for days, with multiple women setting their hijabs on fire and cutting their hair in solidarity. Unfortunately, many of these protestors have been met with teargas, ammunition, and pellet guns from the police force. Authorities have even taken it as far as restricting internet access to prevent further documentation of these violent acts. Despite facing possible arrests and severe injuries, courageous women across the country continue to take the streets to gain long-overdue freedom. Protests have even stretched globally, where individuals in Canada, France, Korea, the USA, and many others have showcased their solidarity. People worldwide acknowledge that the violence and oppression against Iranian women has continued for far too long, and Mahsa Amini and several others will see justice.
“The Iranians are tired of being controlled, tired of being frightened, tired of looking over our shoulders, and tired of worrying about what our government will do to our family.”
Wondering how you can help Iran? Follow this link to resources provided by Middle East Matters: