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Women, Life, Freedom - Iranian women are standing up for their bodily autonomy

Last Friday, Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman from Iran’s Kurdistan province, fell into a coma and died after she was arrested by the morality police for not wearing the hijab correctly. The event sparked demonstrations across the country against the unaccountable and brutal treatment of women by the so-called morality police. The current protests follow a series of protests over the course of years, where women have formed movements by taking off their hijabs in public in protest over the regime’s strict regulations over women’s stress codes and public behaviour. By this week, over five people have been killed and injured in Iran's Kurdish region when security forces opened fire during protests. 


The death of Mahsa Amini sheds light not only on police violence, but a system under which women have been oppressed for years. The revolution Iranian women have been fighting for years has continuously been suppressed by the Iranian regime by silencing the protests with violence, or shutting down the internet to prevent the information from spreading or being covered by the media.


Mahsa Amini and the hijab have become the symbols of the oppression Iranian people and especially women have been revolting against for years. For years, internet and media blackouts have resulted in hundreds of deaths, human rights violations and police brutality being unaccounted for and going unnoticed. With Mahsa Amini’s death, the fear barrier has been broken, but the situation keeps putting the demonstrators into an extremely high risk. 


Now, for the first time since 1979 we are seeing media coverage breaking through of women coming out to the streets to protests against patriarchy, compulsory hijab and gender discriminating regime. Thanks to the courage of these women, the protests have grown to a point where Iranians are fighting the regime as a whole, and risking their lives for gender equality, women’s autonomy of their own bodies and the power of people. 


Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi wrote, “Although the 1979 revolution in Iran is often called an Islamic revolution, it can actually be said to be a revolution of men against women.”


The first order of business of conservative and authoritarian regimes is almost always restricting the rights and freedom of women. But unfortunately in this day and age we see this even in democracies, for example in the US with the abortion ban or in France with the ban on face-covering niqab or burqa covering the entire body in public. Today, more than ever, it is important to support women's rights to decide on whether they want to wear the head coverings or not all around the world. 


We support Iranian women and Muslim women, who are standing up for their bodily autonomy and the right to demonstrate. 


Freedom lies in the freedom of choice.