“Trigger warning: this article contains information pertaining to violence, specifically toward women.
In September 2022, 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was arrested and killed at the hands of Iran’s morality police for improperly wearing her hijab. This has led to what many are now calling a revolution consisting of protests all over the world. While Iranian officials claim that Amini died of heart failure, she was released to the hospital in a coma with serious injuries. This tragedy has circulated the media, enraging people around the globe.
As an Iranian-American woman, I have been long aware of the injustices women face daily in Iran. Women are required to cover their hair at all times when in public using a hijab, a traditional headscarf deriving from the religion of Islam. Women are also separated from men and are not allowed to do activities such as watching men’s sports. They have been arrested for simple acts such as singing in public, leaving the country without their husband’s permission, and even uploading their work to social media.
People have taken to the streets to condemn the government, many of whom are being killed for their activism. Following Amini’s passing, women have stood in solidarity by burning their hijabs publicly, as well as cutting their hair. The face of this rising revolution consists largely of young people including schoolgirls and teenagers.
As a result of the uproar in the media, the Iranian government has shut off the internet for all residents. This has not only led to increased oppression but has also terminated contact between many people trying to reach family and friends in the area. It is incredibly important that we continue to support the Iranian people and they should not have to risk their lives for fundamental human rights. Here are three ways you can help right now.
SHARE WITH FRIENDS, FAMILY, AND FOLLOWERS AND ENCOURAGE IMPORTANT CONVERSATIONS
I have noticed that the majority of people discussing recent events in the media have been of Iranian descent. It is important that our allies help us in a time of need as we try to make meaningful change back home. Share posts and stories on the topic in order for more people to become aware of what is happening. Do not be afraid to initiate conversations with family and friends. If you know someone who is Iranian, take a moment to check in with them and offer support. This is a difficult time for everyone and each individual may be coping differently; remember that all reactions are valid and difficult emotions are justified.
ATTEND A PROTEST
Protests and other events supporting Iranian women are actively happening. Get together a group of friends and attend one or more of these events. The UMass Amherst Persian Students Association is currently planning a rally and would appreciate your support. To learn more, follow @umasspersianclub on Instagram. If you are not in the Amherst area, I encourage you to seek out events in your area or plan your own.
EDUCATE YOURSELF AND OTHERS
Any topic receiving a large amount of traction inevitably accompanies the risk of spreading misinformation. It is best to check your facts and stay up to date with reliable sources. Learning from the experiences of Iranians can also provide a better firsthand account of current events. Iranian women are in need of your help and trust you to accurately represent their stories.
There is great strength in today’s generation of Iranians and there is hope for the future. As CNN’s Chief International Anchor, Christiane Amanpour, once wrote, “There are some situations one simply cannot be neutral about because when you are neutral you are an accomplice. Objectivity doesn’t mean treating all sides equally. It means giving each side a hearing.” We must listen to the women of Iran and end this period of neutrality toward women’s rights. We must not be accomplices to the Iranian government after they took the lives of Mahsa Amini and many other women and are willing to take more. Women’s rights are human rights and every person in Iran and around the world should be able to make their own decisions about their appearance, activities, and lifestyle.”