September 25, 2023

  1. Roghieh Dehghan, Wellcome Scientific Analysis Fellow

  1. College Faculty London

On 16 September 2022, the Girl, Life, Freedom motion was sparked by the tragic demise of Jina Mahsa Amini, a younger Iranian-Kurdish lady. She was taken into custody in Iran by the morality police for non-compliance with the necessary costume code for ladies. 4 days later, she died, succumbing to her accidents inflicted by the police.

As an Iranian lady and researcher specializing in state violence from a gender perspective, I consider there are two distinct methods to border this latest motion in Iran. Given the frequent framing of Mahsa’s demise as an indication of gender inequality and the importance of gender in world well being discourse, an outline of ladies’s well being points in Iran helps to contextualise the primary viewpoint.

Regardless of 4 many years of turmoil, healthcare in Iran has improved with elevated life expectancy, and decreased maternal mortality charges.12 However gender disparities endure. Regardless of excessive schooling ranges (99% literacy charge for ladies aged 15-24 and greater than 60% of college college students are ladies), participation of ladies within the workforce is simply 18.3%.34 Ladies have restricted political illustration and face authorized inequalities in divorce, custody, and inheritance, in addition to prison legal guidelines. In addition they want spousal consent for sure well being companies, together with abortion. Restricted entry to reproductive well being companies specifically impacts economically deprived ladies. As well as, youngster marriage and intimate associate violence persist, linked to social class, poverty, age, schooling, and unemployment. Lastly, there may be larger prevalence of psychological well being issues amongst ladies, with the very best suicide threat in poorer provinces and amongst ethnic minorities, notably Kurdish ladies.15678

Poor well being in ladies stems from unequal useful resource distribution tied to socio-economic components. As an illustration, ladies in disadvantaged areas have a life expectancy 9 years shorter than these within the capital Tehran.6

In mild of this pervasive gender inequality, it’s comprehensible that following Mahsa’s demise a lot of the narrative in social and mainstream media has centred on ladies, their distinguished function within the protests, and their name to finish the oppression of ladies. These ladies subvert and resist the gendered and sexualised politics of the Islamic regime.

This ladies centric discourse has developed right into a shared platform for unification, evoking a profound sense of solidarity and hope amongst Iranians throughout numerous backgrounds. The give attention to ladies, owing to its visibility and its much less overtly political façade, has garnered substantial help from world allies. Nevertheless, it concurrently perpetuates stereotypes and preconceived notions about Islam and Muslim ladies. In reality, the general public and media response adopted a predictable and traditional sample, characterised by orientalist and right-wing nationalist discourses, for instance by the portrayal of Islam as a villainous power in Iran and the glorification of the traditional “Persian empire.”910 These views are additional bolstered by neo-liberal media retailers, which, in a distinctly orientalist method, current an essentialised view of Iranian ladies.

The standing of ladies has traditionally been intertwined with political dynamics. In Iran, like in different Center East and North African international locations, ladies are sometimes perceived as symbols of nationwide id, used to align with or resist Western influences. Because of this, ladies’s our bodies have been instrumentalised as seen markers of political id; they’ve been regulated, from obligatory unveiling beneath Reza Shah Pahlavi, to veiling beneath the Islamic Republic. Thus, whereas this motion is considered by many as a “feminist resistance,”11 I’m involved that framing the motion as a wrestle of ladies diverts consideration from the oppressive management exerted by the Iranian state over the our bodies of its residents—no matter their gender.

Violence serves because the means by means of which the Iranian regime asserts its dominance. Whereas ladies and different vulnerabilised individuals are predominantly focused by the morality police, the aim of this disciplinary power is just not gender violence, however management and terror of society. It’s essential to do not forget that the Iranian authorities is infamous for its human rights abuses on the whole. These embody arbitrary arrests, pressured confessions, and torture. The nation maintains a excessive variety of demise penalties and executions. Management is exercised not simply over ladies’s our bodies, however each side of residents’ personal lives. The regime instils worry within the public by silencing dissenting voices. Throughout final yr’s crackdown on the protestors, over 19 000 individuals had been arrested, greater than 500 had been killed, with the bulk being males, and all seven executed had been males. Ethnic minorities had been overrepresented in these arrested or killed.121314

Violence is inflicted upon our bodies marked by class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and economic system. An unique give attention to ladies’s points dangers concealing the broader state violence and human rights violations of the Iranian regime. When Iranian ladies minimize their hair or take away their scarves, that is achieved as an act of resistance inside a particular socio-political context. The historical past during which we place occasions could be therapeutic. Framing the latest motion throughout the broader context of Iranian individuals’s wrestle for human rights and democracy acknowledges ladies’s essential function on this motion and those who preceded it. It additionally encourages us to see this motion as a continuation of the constitutional revolution (1905-1911), the place individuals aimed to safe civil liberties and restrict absolutely the energy of the state. No matter gender, Iranians establish with Mahsa’s plight. The slogan “Ladies, Life, Freedom” displays a forward-looking, optimistic imaginative and prescient of a unique future.


  • Competing pursuits: the writer declares no competing pursuits

  • Provenance and peer evaluation: commissioned, not peer reviewed.