Women, life, freedom: What does it mean?

Discussing the impact of the protests in Iran after an innocent 22-year-old woman died.

kimia Kowsari, Columnist

On Sept. 13, 2022, 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was killed by Iran’s “morality police.” Mahsa was visiting the country’s capital, Tehran, with her family when the police thought she was showing too much hair. 

According to Time Magazine, the “police say that Amini died in their custody because of heart failure, yet Iranians think otherwise.” 

The morality police are known for their oppressive laws against women. In Iran, women are required to wear a hijab or a headscarf. If they don’t, they get assaulted and in some cases, killed; women will get harmed even if they are not Muslim. This law is one of the many oppressive laws against women in Iran due to the Islamic Republic. 

According to Human Rights Watch, he Islamic Republic came into rule in 1979 and has been harming women ever since. Women in Iran are not allowed to watch men’s sports in stadiums across the country, they are restricted from majoring in certain things in universities and married women are not allowed to leave the country without their husband’s permission.

These laws are just the beginning. Now Iranians, and especially Iranian women have had enough of this oppression. They have taken to the streets, protesting about these controlling laws since Mahsa’s death. 

Iranian women are tired of being treated like second class citizens in their own country. They are tired of pretending to be something they are not. According to the New York Times, these protests aren’t just small coincidences either. Protests right now are the largest protests since 2009 and are taking place in over 80 cities. 

Women in Iran are chanting the phrase “Women, Life, Freedom” despite the threat of being shot and imprisoned by the government. They are risking their lives. There are photographs of women raising their fists while the streets around them burn.

I believe these photographs speak volumes. For years Iranian women sat still and listened. Against their better judgment women turned the other cheek because they knew that if they didn’t, they would be dead too. Now, they have nothing left to lose. What is the point of living if you only live in fear. These photographs will make it known that a country will not run if the women do not want it to; Iranian women will be victorious. 

These protests are much different than the others that have taken place before now. This time, officials are afraid. They are afraid of losing control, so they took away access to the internet all over the country. They are afraid of losing their power. Government officials thought that they could hide these atrocities from the rest of the world and they have failed. 

The brave Iranian women are not stopping, nor will they any time soon. They are taking to the streets to cut their hair and burn their hijabs, signaling to the government that they will not stand for this totalitarian regime anymore. 

Many people have said that the burning of the hijab is wrong and immoral; the hijab is an important part of Islam. Many Iranians, including myself, agree that the hijab is important and beautiful in Islam. However, the burning of the hijab is not done as a way to hate Islam or Muslims, but rather as a way to show the government that their forms of oppression will no longer work. 

The hijab isn’t a choice, but rather a way to keep women in control in Iran. They don’t want women to have their own thoughts or identities. They think we are merely dogs they can train. When women in Iran burn the hijab, they are not burning Islam. They are burning the restrictions and suffocation that they feel in Iran. Women all over the world have the right to choose how they dress. 

The world may not be paying attention right now, but Iranian women will make the world watch. Even though I live on the other side of the world, I am proud of all the Iranian women who risk their lives every day. I am proud to be an Iranian woman, and I will continue to chant “Women, Life, Freedom” until my very last breath.