Everything You Need To Know About The Iran Protests

After the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody, women in Iran are cutting their hair and burning hijabs in protest.

On September 13, 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was arrested in Tehran by the “morality police,” an organisation that enforces a strict dress code in the country of Iran. According to reports, Amini was taken into police custody due to “unsuitable attire” after being accused of breaking the country’s rules on hijab wear whereby women must cover their hair and wear long, loose-fitting clothing. As the New York Times reports, morality police are given the power of enforcing such rules with arbitrary actions like verbal rebukes, fines and even assault. 

When news broke that Amini died on September 16 while in police custody, it sparked outrage around the world. Amini was reportedly arrested while exiting the subway with her brother, who attempted to explain to authorities that the pair were visiting the city. Amini was taken to the detention centre to be “educated” on the proper way to wear a hijab, according to police. As the Times reports, Amini’s brother was waiting outside the centre following his sister’s arrest, only to find an ambulance had come to pick her up following what police described as a heart attack. 

Amini’s family has denied any history of heart problems and, according to local outlets, her brother heard screaming coming from the detention centre with a witness claiming that a woman had been killed inside. As Reuters reports, the police said she fell to the ground while awaiting her “education” session, providing video footage that appears to have been edited to support their claims and that the outlet was unable to authenticate. According to local reports, Amini fell into a coma following her arrest and died three days later. 

Now, women in Iran have been taking to the streets, while around the world protests have taken place online, with countless women burning their hijabs or taking scissors to their hair in an act of defiance. It comes after growing unrest concerning women’s rights has continued to gather momentum across the country. 

In one video posted on September 18 by Twitter user @ShinD1982, she chops off her hair in an emotional act of opposition to the law. Now, the video has garnered almost half a million views, and in a moving tribute she captioned the post with a hashtag of Amini’s name, standing in solidarity with the deceased. 

It’s sparked a global movement which has seen the hashtag #MahsaAmini garner more than 135 million views on TikTok, with women taking part in defiant acts of opposition against the law. In Iran, some men have even joined the protests of women removing and burning their hijabs. As Iranian journalist and activist Alinejad Masih explained on Twitter alongside a video of a protest in Tehran showing a group of women burning a hijab, “This video brought tears to my eyes. The woman who took the video says; our dream comes true. Finally, we are burning he symbol of our oppression in the street.”

Since protests have broken out in Iran, five protesters have been killed by Iranian security forces, according to tracking by Hengaw Organisation for Human Rights whose primary focus is human rights violations in Kurdistan, as reported by CNN. The United Nations has since condemned the actions of the morality police as global attention has brought the case of Mahsa Amini to light.

What are the dress code rules for women in Iran?

Rules stipulate that women in Iran have to cover their heads with a hijab (headscarf), while also covering their arms and legs with loose-fitting clothing. In 2005, the “morality police” were formed to ensure all women complied with such rules in public spaces. This police force is entitled to stop and detain any woman who they believe is not complying with the rules. 

How is Mahsa Amini’s death being remembered here in Australia?

Here in Australia, protests over the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody have also taken place. Iranians in Melbourne held a rally outside of the city’s State Library on Tuesday, September 20 where they showed solidarity for women in Iran and expressed outrage at Amini’s death. 

Source @womenshealth.com.au: Read more at : womenalive.org

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