By McKenzie Ward
Zhina Mahsa Amini was only 22 years old when she was allegedly brutally beaten and murdered by Iranian security forces, according to The Hill. After spending three days in custody of Iran’s morality police, Amini collapsed at the detention center and later died after being transferred to a hospital, according to a United Nations Report.
Amini was detained because she was supposedly not wearing her hijab correctly which violated the strict dress codes enforced on women in public spaces in Iran. Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the hijab has been mandatory for both women and girls in Iran over the age of 9 years old, according to Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty.
An order implemented by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in July 2022 resulted in a new list of restrictions for women. For example, women are required to wear a headscarf that covers not only their hair but also their shoulders and neck, according to Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty.
Since the death of Amini, over 46 cities, towns, and villages in Iran have had protests occuring within them while more than 1,200 people were arrested for their involvement in the protests, according to NPR.
Women have cut their hair publicly and have burned their hijabs to show their support of the protest.
As of Sept. 29, 83 people have been killed by Iranian security forces, according to Reuters.
While it is too early to decide whether these anti-government protests will bring true change to Iran, what can be said about this situation is that Amini is not the first to be a victim of the oppressive Iranian government.
In 2018, prominent human rights attorney, Nasrin Sotoudeh was sentenced to 38 years in prison as a result of her legally representing women’s rights activists, including women prosecuted for removing their mandatory headscarf, according to Front Line Defenders.
In 2019, Monireh Arabshahi and Yasaman Ariani were arrested after being caught on video passing out flowers on a metro in Iran while not wearing hijabs, according to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.
These women are just a few who have been oppressed by the Iranian government.
Since the start of the protests, on social media I have seen an increase of Islamophobic comments and calls for bans on the hijab.
But the problem is not with the hijabs. The problem in Iran is that women are not free.
In 2019, a discriminatory law, Quebec's Laicity Act was passed in Quebec, Canada. This ban prohibits some civil servants, including teachers, police officers, and government prosecutors, from wearing religious symbols at work within the province, which includes the hijab, according to CBC News.
In 2010, France became the first European country to introduce a law that prohibited the wearing of face-covering burqa in public areas, such as parks, public transport, and open streets, on a nation-wide level, according to SBS News.
But neither attitude about the hijab or any other religious garment is correct.
At the end of the day, a woman should have the choice to wear any religious garment.
No other opinion should matter.
Not the government.
Both bans and mandates limit the freedom of women and treat women as if they have no sense of bodily autonomy.
Worldwide, women are consistently victims of persecution by government agencies on a woman’s freedom to choose.
In 2022, women in the United States are fighting for their reproductive rights.
In 2022, Muslim women in India are fighting for their right to wear a hijab.
In 2022, women in Iran are fighting to remove the hijab mandate.
However, at the end of the day, these women are all fighting for the same thing.
The right to have a choice.