Author: Amina Zekovic
Date of Publication: 17/10/2022
In the light of recent injustices happening across Iran, it is important to raise public awareness. Obviously we are talking about the terror that Iranian citizens, but mostly women, face daily while living under such a discriminatory and oppressive system. To illustrate this topic, Islamic Republic of Iran is, as the name suggests, ruled by a theocratic regime. The religion of Islam and its rules prevail in the ruling of the country. However, this isn’t necessarily a dreadful thing. But the way it is implemented and forced upon anyone residing within the country is one of the main problems. In such circumstances, there exists the so-called ‘Morality Police’ that ensures that these laws are respected. However, the sad fact is that women are most often the targets of this surveillance and regulation. By law, women are obliged to dress ‘modestly’ .This includes covering their hair with a hijab as well as covering their shoulders and legs. If people don’t obey such laws, it can lead to arrests and so called ‘religious re-education’. However, it has been a ‘long standing tradition’ that women that were detained for the ‘improper hijab’ would end up missing or even dead.
The Current Situation in Iran
On September 16th, Iran entered a historic era. Just 3 days after the tragic death of a 22-year-old, country wide protests have commenced signaling the start of a fight for, essentially, basic human rights. Actually, this girl, Mahsa Amini, an Iranian woman of Kurdish origin, was the trigger point. Mahsa Amini was arrested on the grounds of ‘breaking the modesty law’. She died in police custody after obtaining fatal head injuries. This led to a massive uprising by Iranian women asking for the repeal of the modesty law. In reality, they are calling for freedom… of expression, of opinion, of life. The government responded to such cries by killing innocent civilians, blocking the country's access to the internet, and denying all claims of these actions.
The Reality for Iranian Women
So, let us break down why exactly there is a need for notable change in the Iranian society, and promotion of female empowerment.
Women in Iran have been facing limitations and discrimination in different spheres of life, from marriage, employment, and even political participation. For a long time, they seem like second-class citizens. In fact, this situation still persists.
When it comes to marriage, it is according to the law that girls are allowed to get married at the age of thirteen. Specifically, getting married at a lower age is also allowed in case there is a father’s permission. Such action leads to the promotion of child marriage and child endangerment. Furthermore, in the case of a divorce, a woman must request for one through the relevant court, while a man can dissolve a marriage verbally.
Furthermore, there is little support for women’s talents and allowing them to pursue their professional interests. More profitable working positions are available to men, while women are limited mostly to service work. These include kilns, sand extraction work sites, quarries, etc. Such jobs provide extremely low wages, no extra benefits, and in most cases no health insurance. Also, any relevant labor laws are completely ignored. In addition, women are the first ones to be laid off in case of downsizing. Such conditions have critical results, such as forming anxiety, depression, chronic pain, etc.
But, even with all of the problems that women face, there is no proper representation for them in the government. Most of the activists promoting a change that opposes the regime got arrested or forced to flee the country. In addition, the women that manage to gain a governmental position are merely puppets for the regime’s interest and don;t have the right to express their preferences.
Living in the 21st century means seeing countries pride themselves in the development of democracy and the promotion of human rights. While these unalienable rights must be of respect, in some European Countries, or even Scandinavian, the Middle Eastern ones have their own struggles. However, with all the resources that we possess nowadays, it is unacceptable that any person is threatened by their government – a mechanism that exists in order to protect them. Therefore, this blog is also a call to action. As argued by Amnesty International: ‘States have to set up an independent UN mechanism to investigate and ensure accountability for the most serious crimes under international law in Iran.’ It is time to realize that women are valuable members of society. They don’t exist to obey others. They don’t exist to seem as less valuable solely on the basis of gender. It is even ridiculous that in the modern age, there still persists a need to fight for gender equality. But, until we can all live freely and with no fear, we can’t stop raising our voices, and calling out injustice.