A 22-year-old Iranian woman, Mahsa Amini, passed away on Sept. 16 after allegedly being brutally beaten by the morality police in Iran for not correctly wearing her hijab. Following this news, there have been several protests in Iran where women are taking off their hijabs and cutting their hair to show support for Mahsa and to protest the dangerous patriarchal laws in Iran.
It is nothing new that women in Iran and other countries in the Middle East face extremely unsafe conditions, especially by the hands of their families in the forms of “honor killings.” Honor killing is the killing of a family member, usually a woman, who the family feels has brought shame to them. In Iran especially, these women are killed for outrageous reasons such as their husband saying they looked at a male family member in the “wrong way,” because they did not give birth to sons, and for many other horrific reasons. This website shows the astounding number of women, around 400 to 500 women per year, who have died in the last few months of honor killings, and these are only the reported cases.
This brings me to the importance of supporting and raising awareness of these horrific practices in Iran which have been occurring since the late ‘70s. Most women in this country understand what it is like to face sexism. We have seen it in the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade, which was devastating for millions of women. What we fail to realize is that these women in Iran, and other Middle Eastern countries, have been going through the same, if not worse, treatment for nearly 50 years. This is why intersectional feminism is essential, especially during a time like the present, when these honor killings have escalated.
These protests are not just about Amini, but all women who are being affected by these misogynistic laws. We need to think about the fact that these women have been suffering in silence for decades and we are unaware. In the United States, women do not have the privilege to all the rights we should, and these women in Iran haven’t had any rights since 1979. This is not talked about enough. I knew of these practices, but not to this extent, and I did not know honor killings were so heavily practiced in Iran. These women are oppressed and controlled by the men in power who hold the belief that women are not equal to men and should not be treated as such. This doesn’t just affect the women who suffer directly, but every woman. Think about the fact that if you are a woman coming into a Middle Eastern country to visit, you will likely be required to wear a head covering, or at least dress modestly because of age old customs that should have been laid to rest a long time ago.
These ideals set in place will only cause more damage to women in Iran and other Middle Eastern countries. It has also been reported that Iran has cut off Internet access so we are not able to continue receiving updates on these women’s situations. If they can’t protest themselves, us women here need to do it for them. We need to be their silenced voices by posting and sharing information and videos about their situations. It is important now more than ever for us to support Iranian women because if we don’t, and if their laws aren’t changed, more and more women will die at the hands of their husbands, brothers, sons and other male family members. We women need to support our Iranian sisters because they greatly need our help.