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“زن زندگی آزادی” - “Women, Life, Freedom” has been the chant echoing throughout Iran since the death of 22 year old Mahsa Amini. On September 13, Amini was arrested by Iran’s morality police for violating dress code laws that prevent the removal of the hijab - a headscarf worn by some Muslim women. Following three days of abuse by Iranian police, Amini fell into a coma and passed away on September 16. Mahsa Amini immediately became a martyr, as her death sparked a wave of civil unrest throughout the country.
Immediately following the news of Amini’s passing, Iranians took to the streets, despite the brutal crackdowns from morality police. Women bravely danced through the country’s capital, Tehran, removing their hijabs around a fire. Thousands have paraded through Iranian cities, and even two months after Amini’s passing, there is no sign of this movement ceasing. Young schoolgirls have marched through their schools with no headscarf as a brave form of protest. In October, Iranian rock climber, Elnaz Rekabi removed her hijab in solidarity while competing in South Korea. On Tiktok, young Iranian’s post daily “Get Dressed With Me” videos, displaying the restrictive dress code in a digestible and relatable format for viewers abroad. Through these short clips of their morning routine, viewers are able to grasp the gravity of even the smallest details in Iranian fashion. For Iranian women, the reality is that even the removal of inches of fabric can result in arrest, abuse, and death.
Yet, the fearless women of Iran tread on. While reporting may be inaccurate due to media blackouts by Iranian government, a reported 326 protesters have died since September 16 (Iran Human Rights). Of these casualties, a reported 43 are children and 25 are women, along with thousands more reported injuries. Reporting from the Human Rights Activists News Agency states that at least 15,800 Iranians have been arrested.
While economic turmoil is not the focus of these protests, Iranians are frustrated and exhausted from years of mismanagement and inefficiency by Iranian government. According to the World Bank, inflation will remain high at nearly 30%, coupled with growing unemployment. The recent actions by Iranian government make it even less likely for a positive outcome in nuclear deals, and continued sanctions will cause even more struggle. Following the media blackouts used to prevent the spread of information during protests, Iranian’s online businesses took a substantial hit. A member of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce reportedly stated that over 700,000 Iranian online shops were shut down as a result of the blackouts. It is estimated that the restrictions have cost Iranian businesses $24 billion.