Press "Enter" to skip to content

Mahsa Amini: The Spark for Protest Against Decades of Oppression

On September 16, 2022, Mahsa Amini passed away after being detained by the morality police earlier on in the week. After the Islamic revolution, Iran’s government enforced a strict hijab law which mandated covered hair and loose-fitting robes for women. Many women have challenged the law in recent years. However, appearing in public without their mandatory scarves and robes is very risky. The morality police enforces the rules but has various tactics, some much more severe than others. Some will use verbal enforcement or monetary fines, but some will violently drag the women into vans for detention. Mahsa Amini was allegedly detained for violating dress rules.

Iran’s security forces stated that Amini collapsed from a heart attack in the detention center, however, her family claims that she was perfectly healthy prior to her arrest. Amini’s death has caused suspicion from both her family and Iranians. Her death soon became publicized when photos of her in a hospital bed began circulating social media. The image shows Amini lying unconscious, allegedly in a coma, with tubes going through her mouth, blood coming out of her ear, and bruises around her face. In fact, Iranian physicians stated that the bleeding from the ear suggested that Amini had a concussion due to injuries to the head, largely disproving the fact that she only suffered a heart attack while in the detention center.

On Friday Mahsa Amini’s death was declared, protests enraged in several neighborhoods in Tehran. Crowds chanted “death to the dictator” and “death to Khamenei.” Many appeared in front of the hospital where she died, which caused large numbers of security forces to be sent to disperse the crowds. Again, photos and videos circulated multiple social media platforms. Only this time, there were videos of officers firing guns in the air and violently beating people with batons to stop the protests. Mahsa Amini’s death is a tragedy. She should never have been treated in the way that she was, but her case is only one example of the inequalities in Iran— only one case of inequality in today’s world of politicizing women’s bodies and choices.