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In Memory Of Jina (Mahsa) Amini - The Iranian Women-led Revolution Is Alive And Needs Our Ongoing Support

For the past few weeks, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Jina (Mahsa) Amini and hundreds of innocent young people who were killed with impunity in the aftermath of her killing in Iran. I have often thought about whether there is a soul that leaves the body when one dies unexpectedly and watches this earth from afar. If such a soul exists, does it still carry the earthy feelings we are so accustomed with? Did Jina watch the revolution that unfolded shortly after she died? Was she in awe of hundreds of thousands of people who rallied, marched, carried her photo and chanted her name in Iran and around the world? Did she feel pleased to see all that?

Say her name, Mahsa Amini!

Jin, Jiyan, Azadî

Woman, Life, Freedom!

Zan, Zendegi, Azadi

What do we want, freedom!

When do we want it, now!

Death to the dictator!

But then something reminds me that the desire for her to be watching us from afar and feeling pleased doesn’t feel right. She’s never belonged to my desire for an imaginary world up there in the clouds. She’s never wanted to be up there!

She didn’t want to be picked on, harassed, humiliated, arrested, shoved into a van, and be forced to be lectured on what she was wearing. No one does. She, alongside thousands of other women who have been arrested in the past 4 decades, was utterly defenseless and would have known straight away that she had absolutely no power to defend herself. My attention, therefore, is constantly returned to the dark hours she went through and the humiliation she must have endured in custody.

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And that’s why this is such a tragic and cruel story.

An innocent life taken away in the most inhumane way. No justification of how her death happened can ever erase the reasons why this tragedy happened at the first place.

The selfish entitlement of the regime’s forces to her life and the way they treated her was just so incredibly inhumane. The sense of superiority of those who thought (and still think) they knew better than her, the ones who wanted to intimidate and punish her in order to teach her a lesson and indoctrinate her was overwhelming. Her murder was not only the result of the alleged blows to her head, but the wound was much deeper, the wound of being made invisible in a patriarchal system that has been wanting to own and control women’s bodies since it came to power in 1979. A system whose agents sit in vans preying on their victims, to ambush, traumatise, and arrest women for what they wear. There is no doubt in my mind that all the psychological torture she endured also contributed to her death.

And that’s the reality of a system which rules through controlling and weaponising women’s hair and bodies to stay in power. It has taken basic rights of women away through enacting highly discriminatory bills and has for decades lied to the international community that women are treated with respect in Iran while chipping away all their rights and having a Gender Apartheid system in place.

The system has been brainwashing its followers into thinking that the most important matter in the country is how women dress and how they interact with men. This is why if a celebrity is caught to have had a simple handshake, had an innocent kiss on the cheek, with a person from the opposite sex, or worse than all had removed her headscarf in an international event, this is all turned into a huge issue condemned in length by the clergy and the regime’s media outlets. Like nothing else is ever more important than a woman’s hair.

This is why a woman has learnt the hard way that in the eyes of the regime and its supporters, her headscarf is worth far more than her. If a woman is on a hospital bed dying, she should make sure her headscarf is appropriate.

The regime knows perfectly well that once enough people are engaged with the thought of women, and how important it is for women’s bodies to be policed and controlled, there won’t be much time left to see how incompetent and corrupt the regime really is. How they have destroyed the country and stolen all its resources. The regime forces and its followers are violent, some have committed brutal acts of violence for money, but some have been truly indoctrinated to believe that people have no right to protest a system that was installed by God and women who remove their headscarves equate to prostitutes therefore need to be punished to have a morally healthy society.

We are grappling with a highly patriarchal system that intentionally promotes superstitions and stereotypes against women and using their bodies to deviate the attention from its wrongdoings. It also uses race baiting turning different ethnic groups and the dominant race against each other. After all divide and conquer is an old tactic of all dictators.

Truly sad stuff in the 21st century when our collective women’s and minority rights movements around the world have finally been making some progress, moving forward from centuries of discriminatory laws against women and minority groups.

But have the same collective voices have left some of us behind…?

Jina (Mahsa) eventually succumbed to all the physical and psychological wounds she encountered on 16 September 2022. The country erupted into massive nationwide protests starting from Jina’s funeral in Kurdistan, where the slogan Jin, Jiyan, Azadî, Woman, Life, Freedom originated from. Countless lives were taken with impunity by the regime’s forces for the same reason Jina’s life was taken, that sense of entitlement to people’s lives and to take them away has continued to be the priority of that brutal regime.

In the past year we’ve watched in awe great acts of bravery by Iranian women removing their mandatory headscarves and standing up to the Gender Apartheid rules of the regime. As controlling women’s bodies is the essence of the theocratic regime in Iran, and without it the regime’s entire ideology will collapse hence its entire being, it was only a matter of time for the regime to fight back to continue its grip on power.

Four days after the anniversary of Jina (Mahsa) Amini’s death, the undemocratically elected Parliament in Iran overwhelmingly passed a Chastity and Hijab bill to impose up to 10 years imprisonment, and various other harsh punishments, to intimidate and force women into full submission. This bill is one of the largest bills of its kind with 71 sections and tens of subsections. It has now gone to the highly conservative and patriarchal all men Guardian Council to get the final approval, however, its implementation has already started on the ground and the damage it’s designed to do is already being felt. “UN human rights experts have described it as “tantamount to gender apartheid” with the intention of suppressing women into “total submission”, The Guardian stated.

This bill intends to turn the entire nation into a surveillance system and force, monitoring, and reporting women to the authorities.

Examples of what this bill enforces are:

  • Hefty monetary fines, closure of women’s bank accounts, confiscation of women’s passports, banning women from leaving the country for two years, partial confiscation of women’s assets, and heavily fining companies where women are not following the hijab laws,
  • Provision of medical services of any kind (e.g. hospital, doctor visits, pharmacies, etc) is not allowed to women who don’t wear the mandatory hijab,
  • Taxis and public transport providers who allow female passengers with inappropriate hijab will be fined unless they immediately notify the police etc of the incident (i.e., turning ordinary people against women)
  • If the female driver of a car is caught not wearing hijab or a passenger in a car is not wearing hijab, the owner of the vehicle and the person herself will be heavily fined. The fine for the owner of the vehicle is larger than the person herself.
  • There are tools for the public to use to report the so called offenders,
  • The heads of the Morality Police at each organisation must monitor the female public sector employees not only at work but after work to ensure they follow the hijab rules outside work,
  • All shops, shopping centres, private companies and non-governmental agencies must upgrade their cameras, record everything at all times and keep the recordings for 20 days just in case the Police wants to check an incident involving a woman with bad hijab,
  • The Police is mandated to install the latest surveillance technology in terms of cameras, AI and facial recognition technology to identity women who don’t follow the mandatory hijab rules in all public places,
  • The city councils are mandated to create segregated spaces in parks and public recreation centres just for women,
  • The Ministry of Education to start full segregation of women at universities by creating women only classes and enforcing standard uniforms for female students and lecturers (note that the former is already the case in many universities).

The fact that this bill has been put together in such detail since the Woman, Life, Freedom revolution started last year and passed by Parliament is testimony to the threat the regime has felt by the young population questioning an ideology which is at the core of its existence. The extreme measures in this bill, on top of all the fines and imprisonment sentences already codified in the law, prove that the regime naively thinks that because controlling women’s bodies in the past decades has helped it to stay in power, it’s going to continue to do so.

They couldn’t be more wrong.

Iran is a pressure cooker already at the verge of full explosion and the more the regime increases the heat, the closer its imminent full explosion will be.

I have faith in Iran and in its people saying no to this dictatorship and demanding a referendum to elect a secular social democratic government; I believe in people’s power. The women of Iran however need our support more than ever. We in Aotearoa New Zealand, didn’t tolerate the racial Apartheid system in South Africa. We came out in thousands during the Springbok tour to protest, we can do this again. Let’s demand our new government after the 14th of October election, to set an example on the international stage that women’s rights are human rights and a Gender Apartheid regime such as the one in Iran should no longer be recognised or tolerated.

For a Free Iran

© Scoop Media

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