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Women, Life Freedom: March for Mahsa Amini

The Islamic regime of Iran severely restricts freedoms of assembly and expression. From the Iran-Iraq war to now, they continue to present themselves as a dictatorship, committing inhumane acts like rape, murder, and imprisonment. On September 16, 2022, Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old, was beaten to death by Iranian police for “improperly” wearing a hijab. This heartbreaking event led to civil unrest across cities and on social media. As protests grew to symbolize the diverse grievances of Iranian women, many removed and burned their hijabs. Under the laws of the Islamic Republic, women’s futures embody them becoming wives and mothers. Iranian women were not allowed to have hopes or dreams, and they continued to live in the shadows of their husbands until now. Thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets over the death of a young Kurdish woman, demanding an end to compulsory hijab, controlling women’s bodies, and enforcing a system of gender apartheid. 

Recently, speakers Ellie and Abuzar came to Siena College to share their stories of how the dictatorship within Iran negatively impacted their lives and their relationship with their families. Ellie’s father was a traditional, religious Islamic man that supported the stereotype that women were inferior to men. Ellie continued to oppose this belief, but once her family was falsely accused of an illegal crime, they had to flee the country. Ellie had to return to Iran to marry her husband, but her mother did not have the right to sign her certificate. Women’s oppression was a continuous struggle throughout Ellie’s life, and now it is her passion to speak for the voices that are silenced. 

Abuzar is a scientist that grew up in an unstable household with a drunk and abusive father who suffers from PTSD from war and a naive and sympathetic mother trying to escape the abuse. Based on the court laws in Iran, it took his independent mother three years to earn a divorce from Abuzar’s father because she needed permission from her husband. Her only reason for staying within the family was to protect Abuzar from his father, who had legal custody of him. Iran is not a culture but an Islamic regime where mothers are oppressed to live a life hidden from reality. 

The Women, Live, Freedom movement in honor of Mahsa Amini has started a revolution to end the Islamic regime. This discussion of women’s rights inspired me to become a voice for the women who are silenced by the government and men themselves. As the speakers said, “Become the one drop of the whole ocean.” Even though my contribution may be small, the importance of uniting together will allow for a change. Freedom means everything to Iranian women, and this is the time to speak the truth about how to stop the tyranny in Iran. 

Here at Siena College, it is important that we use our voices to help those across the globe, fighting every day to instill a change within the Iranian government. Regardless of background, religion, gender, or race, we must unite as a school to support the women and men protesting on the streets not only for Mahsa Amini but for women’s equality.