Women Take Center Stage Throughout the Iranian Protests

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By Annalina Guido, Staff Writer

On September 16th, 22 year old Iranian citizen, Mahsa Amini, unwillingly became a martyr. Taken into custody by Iran’s morality police- a special police force designed to uphold religious practices and standards- for allegedly wearing her hijab improperly, although eyewitness statements objected to the validity of this statement. Police reports released a statement claiming Amini died of a sudden heart attack, but it’s suspected there was brutality involved.

Demonstrator cutting her hair defying the Iranian Government

In the wake of Amini’s death, she sparked a movement of women’s rights and liberation in Iran. Protesters filled the streets as women began burning their hijabs and cutting off their hair in defiance of a controlling government.

Many have begun to draw similarities between these protests and those that gained traction in the U.S in 2020, dubbing it “Iran’s George Floyd moment.”

Women’s rights have been a tug of rope war for decades, but in the past few months, things have been escalating at a rapid pace. In America, the fight for reproductive rights has been rekindled with the recent overturning of Roe vs. Wade, but this does not mean we should turn a blind eye to other struggles around the world. The women’s rights movement in Iran must be fought for just as hard as though it was for women’s rights in America.

“I think it’s really brave to show this kind of rebellion in a country where any kind of rebellion isn’t appreciated,” Junior Anna Goodman comments, “It feels symbolic in the way that they are burning a symbol of oppression for them, at least that’s what it means to them in this instance.” 

There is a fine line to understanding what sorts of bigotry exists within an already marginalized group.

Discussing the intersection of women’s rights and religious freedom is a delicate subject to broach. From wearing a hijab all the way to being the target of microaggressions and hate crimes, many are discriminated against in the US. On the other hand, Iran enforces their own religious teachings on their citizens, whether they believe in it or not. There is a fine line to understanding what sorts of bigotry exists within an already marginalized group.

“You have to be careful about the way you discuss the story because oppression by oppressed people is such a difficult thing to talk about,” Goodman continues, “within oppressed communities there’s still oppression against each other.” 

Finding nuances in an issue surrounding women’s rights and religious freedom is essential when it comes to educating yourself about topics one may not completely understand. There is not just one way to approach a conversation about oppression; there are many things that need to be taken into account in order to formulate an opinion and stand in solidarity. Standing in solidarity is exactly what many are doing all across the world. 

“I think we can learn a lot from protests all around the world, because even though we don’t speak the same language, it shows that people really aren’t that different from each other”, Goodman concludes.