Misogyny Ramps up in Iran: Women Face Intimidation and Violence in Wake of Uprising

Written by
Mansoureh Galestan

As the nationwide uprising continues in Iran, its misogynous rulers have intensified their campaign to enforce the mandatory hijab, unleashing a wave of intimidation and violence against women.

On April 1, the regime’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, praised the mandatory veiling as a “legal matter.” His Minister of Science, Research, and Technology issued a statement a day after, banning “students who do not comply with the” mandatory veiling from having access to “educational, welfare, etc., services.”

According to the state-run Fars News Agency, on April 1, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, the regime’s Judiciary chief, threatened women and urged the police to deal with this regime-proclaimed “crime” without “any tolerance.”

“Officers are obliged to deal with obvious crimes and any kind of irregularity in public that is against the law and the Sharia. They must refer the cases to competent judicial authorities to handle them. The judicial authorities should also be diligent in taking care of such cases,” he said.

Meanwhile, shops and public places are being sealed for accepting “improperly veiled” women, and a video of a plain cloth agent attacking two young women with yogurt in a shop has gone viral. In the latter case, authorities arrested the two victims, sealed the shop in Mashhad, and state-affiliated media heaped praise on the assailant.

The clerical regime’s ramped-up misogynous actions are a desperate response to Iranian women’s leading role in the nationwide uprising, which has rattled the system’s foundations and laid bare its weakness.

The courage and determination of Iranian women and their leading role in protests spanning across Iran defying four decades of oppression amazed the entire world. Many of the martyrs fallen for freedom in recent demonstrations are young Iranian girls and women.

Why is Iran’s regime forcing women to wear the mandatory hijab?
Of course, the Iranian women’s leading role in the uprising did not happen overnight. It stems from 44 years of heroic perseverance of women in the Iranian Resistance, particularly the country’s leading opposition, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). The MEK’s Resistance Units, particularly its female members, have been risking everything to spread the message of courage across Iran through their activities while also acting as the uprising’s trailblazers.

On June 21, 1996, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), said at a convention in London: “The misogynous, inhuman mullahs are intent on destroying the rights and freedoms of women and trampling upon their human dignity in order to bolster the pillars of their regime.”

“But to the mullahs, I say if you think that you can get what you want because the yearning to live freely and think freely has died in the world, you are gravely mistaken. You have done your utmost to humiliate, suppress, torture, and slaughter Iranian women, but rest assured that you will receive the blow from the very force you discounted, the very force whom your reactionary mindset cannot allow you to take into consideration,” she added.

Sensing the potential of the Iranian women and the Iranian Resistance’s role and impact on society, the misogynous regime has increased its oppressive measures. Aside from oppression, the clerical regime also aims to portray the “mandatory veiling” and some basic personal freedoms as the Iranian women and the uprising’s core demand.

Since the beginning of the protests, authorities have tried to downplay Iranian women’s demands. The regime’s pundits and some so-called “opposition figures” abroad parrot this talking point by saying that women’s demands are limited to abolishing the mandatory hijab or trying to sow division between the religious and non-religious segments of society. This starkly contrasts the reality, as one of the most popular slogans in the uprising is “With or without hijab, onward to revolution.” The plain truth is that the people of Iran, of all faiths and personal beliefs, are united in one thing: getting rid of the despotic rule of the mullahs.

As evidenced by their role in the uprising and the Resistance movement, Iranian women are a force for change. The regime’s oppressive measures or efforts to downplay their demands cannot enslave their spirit. The international community should support the Iranian people, especially the women, and their aspirations for a secular and democratic republic. International organizations should take practical and effective measures against the oppression of women in Iran and discrimination against them.

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