by Cliff Vacin ‘25
Since September, media coverage, protests, and government resistance have spiked amidst calls for women’s rights in Iran. As a result, many protests have ended in the arrest of civilians and the deaths of hundreds. However, there have been a good amount of results throughout the bad. Iran is scrapping its long-used “Morality Police” and talking about reforming the nation’s mandatory hijab law. This all started because of the death of one Kurdish woman.
Mahsa Amini was a 22-year-old left-wing political activist who aspired to be a lawyer. She had come to Tehran, Iran, to visit her brother, and was arrested on September 13 by the Morality Police, a police force tasked with the responsibility of making sure citizens follow the dress code, with women wearing headscarves that cover all of their hair. She was told that she would be put under a “briefing class” and released an hour later; however, she was beaten by police and taken to Kasra Hospital, where she died.
Protests started right after her death and the cause of death was announced. The protests started out non-violent. Iranian women start taking off their hijabs and cutting their hair in protest, yelling anti-government slogans such as “death to the dictator” and “death to Khamenei.” On September 17, the day of Amini’s funeral, police opened fire on protestors. Due to these protests, there are casualties nearly daily. Iranian mobile operators started shutting off the internet from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m.
The worst of these protests, however, took place on September 30. Dubbed “Bloody Friday,” the Iranian police fired on civilians during Friday prayers. Up to 40 people were killed, with many more injured. A considerable protest started around the people who were praying on this day due to a 15-year-old girl who was raped by a police chief. A majority of the people that were shot around the protests were still praying, mainly children and older people.
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei called the protest riots. Around this time, on October 9, security forces arrested children inside the school and put them inside vans without license plates. These events escalated to the point where Iranian higher authorities felt threatened by anything and everything, which led up to several events that happened at the 2022 World Cup. Mehran Samak, a 29-year-old Iranian man who was friends with Iran national soccer player Saeid Ezatolahi, was shot dead on November 29 after celebrating Iran’s loss in the World Cup.
However, the spokesman for the committee that oversees the enforcement of moral values, Ali Khan Mohammadi, stated on December 5 that the Morality Police had been disbanded and replaced with “newer, more updated, and detailed methods” to promote wearing a hijab. However, the Islamic laws governing how women dress haven’t been lifted or loosened yet, raising the question of whether or not Iran’s government will actually change these rules.