Iranian Women in Front Line of Freedom Movement

Iran is in pre-revolutionary stage. Due to the US sanctions, massive governmental corruption, unfair judicial system and paying attention to foreign affairs of regime more than welfare of Iranians inside of Iran and spending huge amount of money on destabilizing Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon, instead of noticing economic situation of Iranians , Iranians are angry. Iranian regime limits freedom of its own citizens; women have no right to wear freely and they are forced to wear Hijab and otherwise they are not allowed to study or work in Iran; high rate of unemployment, oppressing any peaceful protest by regime and isolation of Iran from the rst of the world which is direct consequence of Iran’s supreme leader and considering whole system of Islamic Republic as s totalitarian regime who does not bear freedom of expression and disturbs democratic elections, they all made Iranian people to protest against the regime and want to overthrow Iranian regime and support regime change plan.

Iranians are suffering from the high rate of inflation, which according to economist Steve Hanke stands at 244%. Many Iranians want regime change, but the regime has many cards to play. Tehran has made Iranian society so fragmented. People cannot trust each other. They always complain about the poor economic and political situation, but they are not ready to pay the price of change, which could be bloody and intense due to the regime’s brutal oppression. Unfortunately, Iranian society suffers from lack of social trust. But in this situation people have brilliant cards to play, which are social and human rights activists. These activists are educated, open-minded and brave. In spite of violent oppression, they advocate for democracy and a secular constitution.

Women are on the front line here. Nasrin Sotoudeh is one of them. Sotoudeh is a lawyer and member of the Iranian central bar association. She has defended political activists and, as a result, the regime has cracked down on her down on her work. The winner of Sakharov prize, Sotoudeh and was in prison for six years from 2010 on charge of acting against national security. Although the national central bar has prevented her from practicing law for 20 years, she didn’t give up and protested by standing in front of Iranian Central Bar Association until they had to let her defend political prisoners again and renewed her law practice license.

On June 13, 2018, Sotoudeh was once again arrested due to her defense of activists from the Girls of Revolution Street. That movement saw Iranians protesting against the compulsory hijab after a woman removed her headscarf in Tehran. While in prison, Sotoudeh was on a hunger strike for almost two months. Sotoudeh is seen an honest lawyer who does not belong to any political parties and has not been polluted by political games, and she will never give up. Her noticeable attitude is she seeks change in Iran via a referendum and she believes change and reform cannot be done through existing Islamic system in Iran; She has proved that she only cares about human rights and democratizing the existing constitution, as she called for a referendum to establish a new democratic model few months ago. In spite of intense pressure on her and her family, she never gave up and has not run away from the country. Instead, Sotoudeh is going in the right direction — the direction that people go so that others can look at her as a leader. She could one day be the first female leader in the history of Iran.

Women have showed great bravery against the brutal regime of Iran — from the Girls of Revolution Street to physicist and human rights activist Narges Mohammadi, who campaigned for eliminating the death penalty and is now sentenced to 16 years imprisonment. Atena Daemi was another example, she was defending child labor rights and she is now in prison for defending human rights, Gholrokh Iraee wife of Arash Sadeghi athe great couple who are in prison for years because of their human rights activities! Hengameh Shahidi is another Iranian female journalist who challenged Iranian judiciary system for its violation of human rights and rule of law and now she is sentenced to 12 years imprisonment. These are few examples of women in front line of democratic and human rights movement in Iran.

Iranian women know how to fight because they have been oppressed by a patriarchal culture for centuries, they have been forced to wear a hijab for the last 40 years , according to Iranian law they cannot work without consent of husband, they cannot exit Iran without permit of husband or father, even they cannot study or work without compliance with compulsory Hijab rules, Iranian women inherit half of a man and according to law their testimony is not worthy as men’s testimony; Iranian women suffer from indiscrimination at workplaces , they cannot occupy high management or high governmental job position, they faced serious home violence issue , they are harassed in the streets and religious authorities and even national television of Iran recommend them to stay at home and give birth to as many children as they can, instead of work outside.

Now, those women are on the front line of the freedom movement against a regime that tells women what to wear, how to think and how to live. Iranian regime and this patriarchal culture have been trying to eliminate women and their existence from the society by forcing them to wear Hijab and to stay at home but Iranian women know how to fight, they are brave and they are prepared to pay the price of freedom and they will win this fight because they are fighting for their existence!

About the Author
Ehsan Hosseinzadeh is an Iranian lawyer, journalist and human rights activist. He has contributed to various newspapers including Ghanoon, Shahrvand, Khate Solh, Hoquqe Ma and Fair Observer.