Women, life, freedom: the perspective of a young Iranian woman

Supported by MECCA M-POWER.

Woman, Life, Freedom.

Zan, Zendegi, Azadi.

The three words currently heard being chanted and screamed around the world, calling for support, understanding and most importantly change. The women in Iran have been born, lived and suffered through a controlling regime for almost 50 years, and now we have the opportunity to help them.

On Saturday 1 October 2022, thousands of protestors came together in over 200 cities across the world, including Sydney, London, Toronto, Los Angeles, Stockholm, Tokyo, and Istanbul to stand in support of Iranians and fight for their freedom. Many women cut off their hair as a symbol of solidarity in support of their Iranian sisters.   

So how did we get here? On Tuesday, 13 September 2022, Jina Mahsa Amini, a 22 year old woman, was arrested by the Islamic Morality Police in Tehran, Iran for wearing an “improperly fitting headscarf” and was detained. She died three days later in police custody. Whilst official statements claim her death was caused by a heart attack, witnesses report they saw her being beaten by the detaining officers and it is strongly suspected that this brutal beating was the cause of her death.

As an Iranian female myself, I have met the Morality Police in Iran. I have been stopped by them, threatened to be taken in the back of a van to an unknown location, for them to teach me how to cover up properly. "You should be embarrassed" they spat in my face, a 15-year-old child at the time.

This is not new. This is not unusual. This is the daily life for the women living in Iran.

Did you know, for example, it is a punishable crime in Iran for women to show their hair, or sing and dance in public? Even riding a bike for a woman is illegal. Basic human rights we take for granted every day, are what Iranian women have dreamt about.

Now the world is protesting, along with the majority of citizens, of all genders, across Iran, to put an end to this barbaric and suffocating regime. The people of Iran are risking their lives to stand up for women's basic rights. If you're not familiar with this, you might be asking yourself, 'Why haven’t I heard about the fighting?’

This is by design of the Iranian government who have suspended internet access, so that the protestors in Iran can be silenced by officials for standing up to the government without  global ramifications. Most recently, over 400 protesting students at Sharif University in Iran were locked in the gates of their university, the military open fire. Conservative numbers show that over 700 protestors in Iran have already been killed, and still, the hunger and determination for change and standing up for what is right grows stronger.

What can we do to help?

Raise awareness – take the time to read the posts being shared by your friends online, research the situation on social media through the hashtags, #mahsaamini #freeiran #iranprotests, share what you can with who you can, attend a protest if there is one near you.

Don't forget them – one of the biggest threats is that due to the internet censorship, the interest will fizzle out and the rest of the world will resume their normal lives. Please do not let this happen.

Snowflake.torproject.org – downloading this safe extension to your computer allows citizens of Iran to access the open internet even when regular connections are censored.

To leave you with a few lines from an Iranian singer songwriter Shervin Hajipour and his song Baraye, a song for the people of this uprising, comprised of lines sent to him by Iranians across the world for why they are fighting. He was arrested just recently, a week after this song's release:

For dancing in the streets,

For our fear when kissing loved ones,

For my sister, your sisters, our sisters,

For the sunrise after the long dark night,

For women, life, freedom.

Thank you for reading,