“I was born a woman and I have been afraid ever since.”
I remember very well the day I went on my Instagram page and shared how terrified I was of the injustice so many women face around the globe. I still remember how scared I felt for being born a woman in a time when the world still dictates what, who, and how we should be.
I wrote this sentence more than a year ago.
But the fear. The pain. The reality that makes me sick to my stomach still surrounds my being.
The recent murder of Mahsa Amini had me rallying back to that very thought. It had me think about the thousands of women who were brutally murdered simply because they were women. Mahsa, a 22-year-old Iranian girl, was arrested by the police earlier this September for wearing the hijab in an “inappropriate” manner that was viewed as a violation of the hijab and the law. Following her unjust arrest, Mahsa was subjected to police brutality which left her in a coma. Only a couple of days later, Mahsa died at the hospital.
But the reality of things is that Mahsa did not just die, she was brutally murdered.
The murder of Mahsa led to a worldwide outrage for the inhumane acts that eventually killed her. People across Iran have been protesting the brutal killings and oppression of women for a very long time, and the death of Mahsa further fueled the rage that is engulfing the country. With protests spreading across the country since Mahsa’s death, the police have been aggressively retaliating. As of writing, the response of the police has left at least seven people dead and hundreds injured.
Protests have been ongoing in #Iran since #MahsaAmini, 22, died in state custody on Sept 16 after being arrested by morality police.— IranHumanRights.org (@ICHRI) September 20, 2022
Here Tehran university students chant: “Killings after killings, to hell with morality police!” on Sept 20. #مهسا_امینی #مهسا_امینی_کشته_شد pic.twitter.com/h9wVSELqDa
Mahsa’s killing also sparked rage and protests in other countries across the globe. One woman in Italy posted a video of herself cutting her hair in protest of what happened to Mahsa.
“You see this?! A 22 year old girl was killed by ‘Hijab Police’ because she wasn’t wearing her hijab properly! She wasn’t the first, and won’t be the last!” - Faezeh Afshan
The UN has even condemned the killing of Mahsa and the oppression that Iranian women have to live through every day.
The murder of Mahsa is just one of the thousands of other murders that go unnoticed. According to the UN, on average one woman was killed every 11 minutes by a family member in 2020. This makes the global total of women/girls killed in 2020 around 47,000.
For instance, since the abduction and murder of Sarah Everard in the September of last year, around 125 women have been killed in the UK in less than a year! In Turkey, 158 femicides have occurred since the beginning of the year. While on the other side of the world, it is reported that 20 women have been killed within only 22 weeks in Australia.
In the region, killings against women have also signaled an alarming trend when Egyptian student Nayera Ashrar was stabbed to death outside her university earlier this year. Similar to that devastating incident was the murder of Iman Rashid, a 21-year-old girl who was shot in one of Amman’s universities.
But the thing with oppression against women is that it includes other forms of violence as well. The UN also reports that around 2.5M women and girls live in countries that have at least one discriminatory law in place. This comes to show that the fight to eradicate the oppression of women is still a long one and more strict and active laws should be put in place to help protect women.
"In Iran, a woman was beaten to death for wearing her hijab too loose. Women are cutting their hair to protest her murder. Other women are dancing around a fire burning the hijabs they did not choose to wear. Women around the world who choose to wear a hijab suffer exceptionally during these times because they’re reprimanded for their choice and they feel the need to justify that it is their choice and that this religion does not have to belong to the same people that enforce it in horrific ways. In all these cases, women are losing. Their lives, their hair, their autonomy. Women suffer every day and their rights are just an afterthought. Let women be" - Ateka Saleh
Ultimately, the discrimination, violence, and oppression against women know no religion, race, or nationality because it is an epidemic that has become deeply rooted in societies across the globe. But this is an epidemic that has to be eliminated before it snatches away more lives.
It is on us to speak up, raise awareness, and implement more effective laws that protect women and give them their basic right, the right to live and have complete freedom and control over their lives.
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