The nationwide Iran protests continue despite the regime’s heavy crackdown. Apart from people’s bravery, what stunts any observer is the role of Iran’s most undermined citizens in leading this uprising: the Women.
Originally erupted due to the brutal yet tragic murder of the 22-years-old Mahsa Amini by the regime’s morality police, the new wave of dissent across Iran demonstrates a national will to topple a corrupt and misogynist system that has brought nothing but misery for Iranians.
Footages obtained by the Iranian opposition, Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), show brave young women facing and pushing back the brutal, oppressive forces. A video from Shiraz shows a girl on a car cheering the crowd to chant “death to the dictator.”
But it is crucial to understand that these braveries are not impromptu. The role of the Iranian women demonstrates a great potential the regime has failed to oppress.
Since taking power in 1979, the ruling theocracy targeted Iranian women, as their progress in society starkly contrasted the mullahs’ medieval rule and backward thinking. A year into the 1979 revolution, the regime’s founder Ruhollah Khomeini made wearing the hijab mandatory.
Khomeini’s thugs soon started harassing women by splashing acids on their faces or attacking them with knives. Hassan Rouhani, who later became the regime’s president, acknowledged that he was the first official who forced women to wear hijabs in any office affiliated with the army. Rouhani, who was later portrayed as a “moderate” by the regime’s apologists, continued to keep his so-called “moderate” views, vis-à-vis women, by hanging over 150 of them in 8 years.
In 1979, as Iran’s sole progressive Muslim opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), quickly condemned mandatory veiling. MEK women, who were willingly wearing headscarves, were on the frontlines of protests in the early days after the revolution, defending the right of their sisters to choose their cloth. Tens of thousands of brave MEK women were executed in the 1980s, forming most martyrs fallen for a free Iran.
Shocking testimonies of the survivors of the 1988 massacre
Political prisoner: 1981-1991
In the women’s ward, hall 1, all the women were executed, no survivors; in Hall 3, all the MEK members were executed. #Iran #ProsecuteRaisiNOW #UNGA pic.twitter.com/Kde0vmRU5p
— NCRI-FAC (@iran_policy) September 21, 2021
Mandatory veiling is but one of many misogynous laws Iran’s clerical regime has adopted. The regime’s constitution considers woman’s rights half of a man’s, allows polygamy, facilitates horrific honor killings, and prevents women from having an equal share in society.
According to Article 942 of the Iranian Civil Code, men can have multiple wives, both permanent and temporary. According to this article, Men inherit twice as women do. “In case of multiple wives, one-fourth or one-eighth of the heritage which goes to the wife will be divided equally among them.”
Other articles in the Civil Code depict women as men’s sex slaves. For instance, a nine-year-old girl who is forced into marriage with her father’s permission must live anywhere her “husband” wants and cannot leave home, go to work, or travel without his permission.
According to Article 1041, “Marriage before puberty is appropriate if permitted by the guardian provided that the interests of the girl under custody are considered.” In addition, a note to Article 1210 sets the age of maturity and legal accountability for girls at nine lunar years. This measure exposes girls to maximum social and legal vulnerability.
Principle 2 of the regime’s Constitution underlines the “Man’s dignity, lofty value, and freedom coupled with responsibility before God, which is updated through continuous interpretation by jurisprudent.” Principle 10 of this medieval Constitution specifies, “Since family is the fundamental unit of Islamic society, all laws, regulations and relevant planning must be directed at facilitating family formation, safeguarding its sanctity and solidifying its relations based on Islamic rights and ethics.”
These misogynous laws facilitate the horrific “honor killings” in Iran. The world was shocked to see the footage of a man beheading his wife in February in broad daylight in Khuzestan province. The victim, 17 years old Mona Heydari, was the latest victim of honor killings in Iran under the misogynous regime. An average of 375 to 450 honor killings are recorded every year. Instead of punishing murderers, the regime’s constitution allows the husband or father who committed this heinous crime to go unpunished.
According to Article 382 of the Islamic Penal Code, if a Muslim man deliberately murders a woman, he will not be punished in kind (as called for by the principle of Retribution) unless the victim’s parents pay half of the man’s blood money to his parents. While if a woman murders a man, even in self-defense, she may be executed upon request of the victim’s parents.
— Maryam Rajavi (@Maryam_Rajavi) March 8, 2022
Women, the force for change
Despite the regime’s institutionalized misogyny, the Iranian women have not surrendered. In fact, Iran’s opposition, the MEK, and its parent coalition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), are led by courageous women who have abandoned everything they hold dear to bring about a fundamental change in Iran.
Since the 1980s, the women of the Iranian Resistance have showcased their potential to lead the movement against Iran’s ruling theocracy. The regime subjected brave MEK women to various types of harassment and inhumane tortures. During the 1988 massacre, nearly all MEK women were executed. But they walked to the gallows with clenched fists and while chanting defiantly.
During the recent protests in Iran, women showed their strength and leading role, laying bare the regime’s weakness. These women have been organizing and leading demonstrations against the ruling misogynous regime.
For this reason, the Iranian Resistance has consistently highlighted the need to empower women to play their role in not just today’s struggle but also in a free and democratic Iran.
In its plan on Women’s Rights and Freedom, the Iranian Resistance stipulates that the individual freedoms for women, including freedom of belief, religion, employment, travel, and choice of clothing, are inevitable imperatives.
According to this plan, all forms of coercion on women in family affairs, polygamy, physical, sexual, and psychological violence, and all forms of sexual exploitation of women and whatever the reactionary and patriarchal regimes imposed on Iranian women will be eradicated in the Iran of tomorrow.
In her speech on June 21, 1996, in London, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the NCRI’s president-elect, highlighted the Iranian women’s great potential. She underlined that, to the regime’s surprise, women will deliver the ruling misogyny “the fatal blow” and will sweep away their oppressive rule.
“I stress once again that the women who suffered the history and pain of gender discrimination before you and the children, men, and women of the future have set their sights on you. You are the ones who will bring our history into the golden age of equality, peace, democracy, and development,” Mrs. Rajavi said.
“Victory is in front of you, belongs to you, and is waiting for you. Yes, today’s oppressed (women) are the victors of tomorrow. Their voices will be echoed eternally.”
So It is no surprise that Mahsa Amini’s name becomes the code name of what many believe to be the Iranian people’s revolution. The Iranian women have been paying for their resistance in blood. But they are also inking the future with their blood. The Iranian women are the trailblazers of the country’s struggle for freedom. Aragorn, the famous French Poet, once wrote: “The women are future of men kind.” The Iranian women are the true embodiment of this one magnificent prophecy.
The Iranian women are not just fighting for individual freedom; they symbolize the nation’s plight and its struggle against the ruling theocracy. And as Mrs. Rajavi said, they are a force for change.