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Opinion: The Protests in Iran: Women Still Must Fight for Their Right to Exist in 2022

🕑 3 min By Sara Campeti

1. What is happening in Iran?

Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman, was apprehended by the Iranian morality police (the authority whose task is to enforce the national dress code) in the Iranian capital, Tehran, after not respecting the hijab rules imposed on women in the country. The woman died in a hospital 3 days after being taken to a re-education center, and her death is now a symbol of the struggle of Iranian women to live freely in their country after the Islamic Revolution. The movement created by the death of the woman has spread to more than 40 cities in Iran and the clashes between authorities and protestors have claimed several lives. Mahsa Amini has not been the only death: official figures have not yet been reported by Iranian authorities, but dozens of people are believed to have been killed in the protests. National media outlets are also reporting around 1200 arrests.

2. What are the rules imposed on women in Iran?

Iran has a nationwide dress code for its female population. What is imposed on Iranian women is to wear a long tunic or coat over their regular clothes and to cover their hair with a scarf. The legal code of Iran, since its Islamic Revolution in 1979, is based on the Sharia. But what is the Sharia law? The latter is a system of religious law based on the principle of the sacred text of Islam, the Quran and other literature, the sunnah, the qiyas, and the ijma. The usage of the Sharia law to justify violence against women has been a topic of controversy for decades in the Islamic community: Imams and scholars who have studied and analyzed the traditional Islamic scriptures claim that the abuse of women is not justified in the original texts, and saying that it shows a clear misinterpretation of the texts themselves. Therefore, to go back to the topic of Mahsa Amini’s death, the latter shall not be blamed on Islam but on the systematic abuse of women that happens in the country. Islam is only used as a justification to abuse power on marginalized communities, but in many western countries, Islam is demonized and villainized as the religion of oppressors and abusers. What women are fighting against in Iran is their lack of freedom, not against Islam.

3. How is the Iranian government handling the civil unrest?

The current president of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, has claimed Amini’s death to be a “tragic accident” that “saddened” everyone in Iran but that, nonetheless, does not justify the chaos in the streets. The protesters have been chanting “death to the dictator” and have been met with violence in the form of clubs, tear gas, and even ammunition. The Iranian president has also ordered an investigation to be carried out on her death and for the results to be made public. This is because the stroke that killed her was induced by a coma, which the family believes to have been induced by the beating of the police officers that arrested her. They are yet to receive any confirmation.

4. Conclusion

In conclusion, this case touches on two important issues: the way women are still disrespected and seen as puppets to be controlled, and the usage of Islam as a justification to discriminate against women. It is insane, to say the least, that in 2022 women are still being subjected to such strict scrutiny when walking out of their houses. The way that women are seen as government property, that our bodies are objects to make laws upon and to regulate, that our right to control our own life is not a given but something we need to fight for. Women in Iran are not asking for the overthrowing of the government, but just to be listened to and respected as human beings equal to men. Our daily life is not a “controversial religious topic” or legislation ground, it is our daily livelihood. All women ask for is respect and freedom, and they receive imprisonment and death.

Sources: Aljazeera, CNN, New York Times, Reuters

Written by Sara Campeti

October 2022

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