Student Perspectives on the Women’s Rights Situation in Iran

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*Name has been changed to a pseudonym to protect anonymous student from retaliation.

The 1979 Iranian revolution forever changed Iranian women’s lives and took away their basic rights. Since the revolution, women have been forced to have their entire faces and bodies covered up. They are not allowed to dance, work, or divorce their husbands. 

In September of last year, Mahsa Amini, a 22 year-old Iranian woman was not wearing her hijab fully and was harassed and taken to jail by Iran’s Morality police in Tehran. During her custody, Amini was raped and beaten by police and eventually, after leaked medical scans, died due to a cerebral hemorrhage. The death of Mahsa Amini has reached every corner of the world, including the M-A Community. We asked students of Persian descent about their mixed feelings on Iran and the importance of last year’s protests:

Have you returned to Iran?

Sarah Djafari said, “No, but my parents think that if it was safer, we would go back more often.”

Sophia* said, “Yes, I have been back but I was blessed to be in a more liberal area. But when I left that area, which was rare, it was scary and my parents were nervous.”

Ella Thomson said, “In order to get an Iranian passport, your dad needs to be a citizen but my mom is. And in order for my dad to get one, he would have to change religions due to the theocratic government. But other than that, I do not wish to go to an unsafe country.” 

Sina Kassayan said, “I haven’t returned to Iran, and I do not want to. Not with what’s happening.”

Protest in San Francisco (October 9, 2022)
Ella Thomson

How have you personally been affected by the situation in Iran?

Djafari said, “I’ve never been to Iran, but I definitely feel affected because I feel for all the women who are there and going through this hard time.”

Kassayan said, “I’m not personally affected but I’ve definitely been to a lot of events where people are talking about it and at school with the Middle Eastern Group of Students (MEGOS) club.”

Sofia said, “I am a big advocate of freedom and the ability to choose what you wear and want to do with your life. So it pains me to see that women here in America have so many rights while when I go to Iran, my rights are stripped from me.” 

Thomson said, “Since most of us don’t live in Iran, I feel removed from my cultural background.”

Sarah Djafari
Sina Kassayan

How do you think the impact of the situation following the death of Mahsa Amini affects everyone in the U.S.? The M-A Community?

Djafari said, “I have mixed opinions because I am sad about all the deaths that happened prior to and after the death of Mahsa Amini, but I am glad that it has brought world-wide attention to the situation.”

Kassayan said, “Her death has definitely sparked a lot of protests that have gained a lot of attention all around the world, and especially in America. Because of that, a lot more people are aware of what’s going on there.”

Sofia said, “I don’t think it’s been publicized enough. It is definitely an issue that the media suppresses and doesn’t talk much about. It’s sad because the people in Iran are amazing and are fighting for their lives to earn back the free country they once had.”

Thomson said, “I am glad that it has caught the attention of the U.S., but I would have wanted more actual movement. People have now sort of forgotten about it and it has less recognition in the media.”

To help the women in Iran, donate to the non-profit, Tahirih Justice Center; they have supported over 30,000 women fleeing gender-based bais.

Nava is a junior at M-A. This is her first year in journalism. She hopes to write about world wide issues that affect the M-A family. In her free time, she like to read, play volleyball, debate, and play piano.

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