An image taken during the ‘Women, Life, Freedom’ protests shows red paint and “Iran” in a protester’s hand. Source: The Conversation.
The Islamic Republic of Iran rules the country under Sharia law, and compulsory veiling is used. A year ago, after the death of Mahsa Amini; an increase in protests and calls for revolution were focused by the media. After a year, what is happening in Iran about the hijab rule now?
Mahsa Amini was detained because of improper wearing of her hijab. These detention centres are controlled by morality police for ‘re-educating’ women on the government rules. The footage released by the government shows Amini collapse in the detention centre and was in a coma. Her death was found to be under suspicious circumstances, as she did not have any underlying health conditions stated by her family, and bruises that indicate violence in the detention centre were seen on her body. The government rejected the claims by saying she had underlying heart conditions that caused her to have a heart attack, as well as refused brutal attacks used in the regime towards women who do not conform to the rules.
After her death, the protests sparked to show their solidarity and stand up against the regime forcing the veiling. The statistics show over 500 people were killed, thousands arrested and 7 were executed due to taking part in the mass protests.
The violent restrictions still carry on those who take part in the protests, and at least 23 are still detained in prison by the end of 2023. The new hijab bill this year states that improper wearing of hijab in public is charged with 10 years in prison.
A recent case, the death of 17-year-old student Amrita Garawand, collapsed in metro station after the morality police assaulted her. She was in a coma before she passed away. The government rejected the claims and said it was due to a sudden drop in blood pressure. However, the pattern seen in the case of Mahsa Amini has not gone unnoticed. Her family and friends were not allowed to speak to the media agencies, and human rights activists were arrested during her burial for suggesting Garawand was assaulted before she collapsed.
Later, when the government released the footage, the interviews were included by the family and friends of Garawand which supports the pro-government arguments. As the family was not allowed to speak to other agents, the lack of democracy and freedom of the press should be considered while the evidence from the Iran Republic authorities are released.
In 2023, the biggest reason for being arrested in the Islamic Republic of Iran was found to have links with the “ Women, life, freedom” protests amongst human rights lawyers, journalists, and civil activists. The lack of focus by the international media after the mass protests caused the number of people protesting to decrease by the government through physical abuse, imprisonment and injustice which has only made the lives of women in Iran harder with the new bill introduced.
We, as Rights Defenders, condemn the forceful veiling ruled by the government that needs to be optional to those who want to express their religious beliefs the way they want to express them. We condemn the use of religious scripts by the government to force it onto women and use extreme physical forces that lead to unlawful imprisonment, torture, execution and the killing of those who reject the suppression of the authorities.