The murder of Mahsa Amini, a young woman in Iran, has kicked off protests all across the world, demanding a change in Iran’s government and laws.
Earlier this year, Iran began several protests and movements in response to the murder of a young woman, Mahsa Amini. Aged 22, Amini was detained by Iran’s morality police based on allegations that she was not properly wearing her hijab, which is considered a violation of a mandatory law in Iran that requires all women to wear a hijab in public. Shortly after her arrest, Amini was found dead.
An eyewitness soon reported that Amini had endured a violent beating that left her brain dead and in a coma. On September 16th, Amini passed away in hospital, only three days after her detainment. Authorities told Amini’s family that she had collapsed from sudden heart failure, but her family refutes this, saying that she was a perfectly healthy and fit woman at the time of her arrest.
Amini’s murder has since sparked outrage globally, especially among Iranian citizens. Streets of capital cities have broken out in protest. Both during protests and on social media, women have stood together, shaving their heads in solidarity for not just Amini, but all of those impacted by the discriminatory laws against women in Iran. Many have also removed their head scarves, burning them during protests and shouting “death to the dictator.”
As the protests began to break out, the Iranian government quickly enacted several internet shutdowns in an effort to deter any further demonstrations. Citizens of the country rushed to post online before the shutdowns, pleading with those outside of Iran to keep their stories in the news, and to not let attention from the situation fade.
The protests have not deterred the violence citizens are experiencing from Iran’s police forces, though. Several more have been murdered during protests, not just limited to adults, but young adolescents as well, including high school aged teens. A 16 year old boy was shot and killed, and a 15 year old girl was beaten to death during a raid on her school. These are not the only two who were killed – many more have died at the hands of Iran’s forces.
It is estimated that more than 200 people have been killed during demonstrations since September- this does not include the death tolls from raids on schools, universities, places of employment, and even the recent prison fire that took place inside of Evin Prison- Iran’s most notorious detainment facility in Tehran. At least eight died, and 61 were found to be injured. The fire was found to be started purposefully, and as prisoners tried to escape the flames, guards began violent attacks, as reported by the Washington Post.
The United Nations spoke out in late September on the situation. The experts that released a statement are known as members of the Special Procedures unit of the Human Rights Council. They’re the largest body of human rights representatives in the United Nations, and are also all volunteers, meaning they do not receive a salary of that of UN staff. The experts expressed their shock and grief over Amini’s death, and reminded their audience that she is not the only victim of Iran’s oppressive and systematic violence, and that many more have lost their lives just because they have freely expressed themselves.
All across the world, and online as well, Amini’s death has sparked a large, fueled feminist movement. Even here in Denver, many have joined in protests to bring attention to the restriction of personal freedoms in Iran. On September 25th, a crowd gathered near the State Capitol for a protest. “Our brothers, our sisters, our cousins, our family have been fighting against the morality police for their bangs being shown, their fingernails, they can’t wear lipstick, they can’t wear fingernail polish. This young woman was doing absolutely nothing, and it’s time for change,” said Lisa Andreas, one of the many at the protests, in a report to 9News reporters.
Even in the community here at TJ, there are ways to contribute towards bringing attention to the situation. TJ’s Women’s Empowerment Club meets on Thursdays at lunch in room 11. The club promotes safe spaces for women and non-women alike to promote equal rights and unity. The club’s c0-presidents and sophomores Amaris Medina and Rachel VanWagner came forward to speak about the Mahsa Amini situation. “It’s unfair, and leaves a lot of questions. It’s unfair to women in general.” Van Wagner stated.
Upon being asked about how TJ can help support those affected, both emphasized the importance of coming together as a community to promote awareness. “It needs to be a talked about issue, and bringing awareness to what’s happening in other countries is really important. Creating positive awareness about how women are coming together to support each other is important.” Medina expressed.
VanWagner and Medina both ensured that the club would be looking at fundraising in the future to help those affected. This won’t be the first fundraiser the club has hosted either; recently, Women’s Empowerment Club successfully hosted a bake sale in order to raise money for breast cancer organizations.
As feminism across the world begins to grow and flourish, especially in the face of discrimination and violence, it’s important more now than ever for people to speak up and bring awareness to problems such as Mahsa Amini’s death, and the deaths of many more under unfair laws. Using platforms like social media to stay connected to situations and attending organizations like TJ’s Women’s Empowerment Club are great ways to become involved in helping those affected.