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Iranians Protest Mandatory Hijab and Police Violence

Iranians Protest Mandatory Hijab and Police Violence

Iranians Protest Mandatory Hijab and Police Violence

Contributing Writer

December 8, 2022

Vanessa Guerra '25

Iranian law enforcement’s arrest of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, for wearing an “improper hijab” has sparked worldwide controversy.

Since 1983, women in Iran have been required by law to wear headscarves in public. On September 13, 2022, Amini was arrested for allegedly violating this law. While in police custody, she was allegedly beaten and collapsed, later falling into a coma. Hours later, after what Iran International described as indifference from law enforcement, Amini was finally transported to Kasra Hospital in Tehran. She died in the intensive care unit three days later. Iranian police claim that she died of a heart attack and deny that she was mistreated.

The story broke on Twitter on September 16, alongside a photograph of Amini’s family members crying in the hospital hallway. Niloofar Hamedi, the journalist responsible for the report, would later be arrested by the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence for allegedly conspiring with the CIA. According to a report issued by the ministry in November, Hamedi had been charged with “[launching] a nationwide riot in Iran with the aim of committing crimes against the great nation of Iran well as laying the groundwork for the intensification of external pressures.”

Amini’s funeral was held in her hometown of Saqqez on September 17 and attended by hundreds. According to The Times of Israel, a group of protestors quickly formed, crying “woman, life, freedom” and “death to the dictator.” When the crowd marched to the governor’s office, it was met with open fire from law enforcement. Outrage over her death and the official response to protestors quickly spread to the cities of Sanandaj and Tehran, where social media posts showed videos of women cutting their hair and burning their headscarves. A group of Tehran University students also held a rally carrying posters in solidarity with Amini’s family.

Although Iranian security forces deny killing peaceful protestors, social media posts showed officers firing at nonviolent crowds with shotguns, assault rifles, handguns, water cannons, and tear gas. Iran Human Rights reports that at least 234 Iranians have died during these demonstrations. To stop the spread of protests to other cities, the Iranian government shut down the Internet, blocking citizens from texting or using social media. Despite these efforts, resistance has persisted, with citizens demanding increased rights and freedoms. Some are also calling for the end of the Islamic Republic, Iran’s current government.

According to Ms. Yasaman Djunic, a refugee from Iran, the death of Mahsa Amini has catalyzed an explosion of tensions that have been brewing for decades. When Djunic was just three years-old, Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the Shah and instituted a theocratic government. Under his rule, women’s rights and freedoms were strictly limited.

Djunic notes that, despite the severity of the Islamic Republic, movements for increased rights in Iran are progressing. “This is the furthest [anti-government resistance] has ever come; it’s the biggest it has ever gotten,” she said. Djunic credits the successes to international support from other feminist movements, saying, “International pressure will do something. If nobody says anything, [the movement] [will] die down. [So] raise awareness as much as possible.”

Bluestockings and the Middle Eastern and North-African Affinity Group (MENA) held a joint meeting on campus about the Iranian protests. Leila Farman ’24 said, “We wanted to shed light on everything going on in Iran, because we feel like a lot of things that happen in the Middle East get less attention in the media.” When asked about what the community can do to stay aware of the situation, Audrey Helling ’25, a Bluestockings board member, said, “We suggest free news subscription services, so that students can stay on top of things going on in the world even while at Hotchkiss.”

The Guardian reports that Iranian authorities have indicated they will review the law mandating women wear headscarves, although they have not guaranteed that any changes will be made.

Vanessa Guerra '25 is a contributing writer for The Record.

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Editor's Note: This article was recovered from The Record's online archive. There may be stylistic and visual errors that interrupt the reading experience, as well as missing photos. To read this article as it appeared in print, view our print archives.

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Editorials are written by members of The Record's Executive Board. They typically center on issues related to the school or student life on campus.

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