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Standing up for Women’s Rights in Iran

I was fifteen years old on March 8, 1979, when the Islamic government in Iran introduced a compulsory Islamic dress code forcing women to hide our hair under veils when in public. Many women including students like me were shocked and couldn’t believe the government had enacted a law forcing us to cover ourselves. Their enforcement of public veiling began in 1981 when I was in grade eleven. Knowing that participating in public protests and other forms of open resistance taking place in major Iranian cities against mandatory veiling was risky and could result in us being arrested and detained - or worse, I together with two classmates decided to cautiously express our outrage.

After hours of brainstorming, we decided to put our belief that women’s freedom and equality begins to erode under the Islamic dress code into words, and to let others know that students like us did not accept state policies diminishing women’s rights.

As there were no computers or social media, and television, radio and print media was controlled by the Islamic government, we decided to create hand-written messages and post them in busy neighborhoods. We began by buying several poster boards and coloured markers and met at my parent’s home to create posters, each topped by the large heading ‘Freedom of Choice for Women.’ Then, while watching to ensure we weren’t being followed, we attached our first few posters to telephone poles in a middle class neighborhood. Within minutes of putting them in place, I saw several men and women reading them.

Empowered by that initial success, we headed out to busy street in a working class neighborhood. While we were attaching a poster to the wall of a house, suddenly, someone nearby yelled “the revolutionary guards are coming!” I looked back fearfully and saw two young revolutionary guards walking toward us. We quickly finished attaching our poster before even more quickly running away, with the guards chasing us for a minute before suddenly stopping and returning to the poster.

Being staunch defenders of the Islamic regime, they not surprisingly removed our poster, but we knew we were lucky to have escaped them and being beaten and arrested. That night, from the safely of my parent’s home, I felt happy to have contributed to raising awareness against the compulsory Islamic veiling by using the power of the pen and the poster board!

Comments

Fatima Waziri's picture

That was very brave of your

That was very brave of your Sedigheh. Protesting like that at such a young age is Iran shows commitment and passion, way to go! You and your group could easily have been hurt but you did it anyways, damning all consequences. Looking back at what happened two years ago in Iran with the protesters, I don't think much has change in that region. What a shame...

Peace!
Fatima

Hi Fatima. Thanks for your message. The good thing is that women, particularly the younger generation of women have been continuing their struggle in different ways. No matter how brutally the regime crashes people's peaceful movement, sooner or later, we'll see freedom, equality and social justice in Iran. I am very hopeful for a bright future in Iran and the rest of the Middle East!

With warm wishes,
Sedi

Sarvina's picture

Thanks for sharing your story

Thanks for sharing your story with us! You will bring an impact to Iran as you were already a leader since young age.

Love,

Sarvina

Regards,

Sarvina from Cambodia
VOF 2011 Correspondent

sedigheh.minachi's picture

Thanks Sarvina

Hi Sarvina. Thanks so much for your warm words. I think overall, many women around the world find ways to struggle against injust situation. I am glad to be part of World Pulse, so that we can share our stories with each other.

Peace,
Sedi

Carrie E.T. Stiles's picture

Thank you for sharing your

Thank you for sharing your clearly written story of bravery. It is wonderful to hear your perspective.

sedigheh.minachi's picture

Thank you

Thanks so much for your words of encouragement Carrie. I hope we'll see the downfall of the Islamic regime in Iran very soon.

In solidarity,
Sedi

tanvir kaur's picture

that is so courageous and

that is so courageous and quick thinking on your part..i might have done a similar thing in this situation...:)

Tanvir

@tanvirkaur89

sedigheh.minachi's picture

Thanks

Thanks Tanvir. I agree with you that you and many individuals around the world become create in raising awareness against oppression.

Best wishes
Sedi

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