Iran Protests: Women and Allies Stand Up to Oppressive Forces

Image by Alisdare Hickson on WikiMedia Commons

By Maliyah Ledesma, age 11 and IndyKids staff

The death of a 22-year-old woman at the hands of Iranian “morality police” sent shockwaves throughout the already unsettled region. With protests ongoing, more than 585 people have died since September 2022.

On Sept. 13, Mahsa Amini was arrested by Iran’s morality police in Tehran for supposedly wearing her hijab too loosely. According to Amini’s family and local media, the woman was beaten by Iranian police and died three days later while in their custody. Iranian authorities maintain that Amini died of heart failure, but protesters insist that the police and government are covering up her murder.

Since September, more than 90,000 people have taken to the streets in protest over the killing. Protesters have started bonfires. Women have thrown off their hijabs and cut their hair to protest against police brutality. In Iran, women have often been treated like second-rate citizens. They are searched, photographed, repeatedly have to deal with police brutality and are even forced to take classes on how to wear a hijab properly.

It is mandatory for all women to wear hijabs in public in Iran, regardless of their religion or nationality. After her arrest, Amini was taken to a detention center by the so-called morality police, the Gasht-e-Ershad, who are the enforcers of compulsory conservative Islamic dress and behavior. Her death was caused by a skull fracture from a heavy hit to the head, according to the Associated Press

Iranian authorities have harshly attempted to stop the protests, arresting more than 16,000 protesters to date. Four people have been executed so far in connection with the uprising; nine others have been sentenced to death. Young women continue to be at the forefront of the demonstrations. “We don’t have one leader,” said Golshan, a women’s rights activist in Iran, to the New York Times. “The beauty and strength of our movement is that every single one of us here is a leader.”

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