Fires are burning, women are dancing around the flames while setting alight their hijabs as an act of ultimate defiance against a regime that attempts to control them. Iran has lit up in protest.
It comes after a 22-year-old woman named Mahsa Amini died following her arrest by Iran’s morality police for allegedly violating public dress code rules. Authorities deny any involvement in her death, yet the event has sparked a disruptive uprising lead by women in Iran who are fighting back against the country’s strict rules aimed at women.
Within the last week, protests have erupted in cities across Iran, with those protests moving across borders to Turkey, the United States, Australia and more as unrest grows.
Per The Guardian, at least three people have died while protesting in the streets, but there’s no sign of them slowing down.
Below, we unpack everything you need to know about what’s happening in Iran right now.
Why are women protesting in Iran?
Women and allies have taken to the streets of cities across Iran to protest the government’s strict dress code regime it enforces on women. They were first sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini in mid-September after she was arrested for allegedly breaking these rules. Witnesses have claimed she was beaten by authorities, injuries which they say contributed to her death.
As part of the protests, women are burning their hijabs, which they are required to wear in public. They are also chopping off locks of their hair in an act of defiance.
Who was Mahsa Amini and how did she die?
Mahsa Amini was a 22-year-old woman who was arrested by local authorities while visiting Tehran, the capital of Iran, on September 13 for allegedly breaking public dress code rules, which include wearing a hijab and covering arms and legs with loose-fitting clothing.
She was taken into custody and was allegedly beaten by police, according to witnesses. The injuries caused Amini to fall into a deep coma.
While police have attributed Amini’s coma to a heart attack, the UN Human Rights office reports on claims that she was “beaten on the head with a baton”.
Amini was transferred to a hospital and died on September 16. Her family have maintained that she was fit and healthy, denying authorities claims that she had “previous physical problems”.
An independent investigation has been called for by the acting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Nada Al-Nashif.
“Mahsa Amini’s tragic death and allegations of torture and ill-treatment must be promptly, impartially and effectively investigated by an independent competent authority, ” she said in a statement.
“Authorities must stop targeting, harassing, and detaining women who do not abide by the hijab rules.”
What are the dress code rules for women in Iran as it stands?
In Iran, women are required to cover their heads with a headscarf (hijab), along with their arms and legs with loose-fitting clothing.
To enforce this, the “morality police” were formed in 2005 to ensure that all women were complying with the code in public spaces. They are allowed to stop and detain any woman who they believe are not complying.
Are people protesting in Australia?
Yes—Iranians in Melbourne, Australia held a rally outside of the city’s the State Library on Tuesday, September 20 where they protested Amini’s death and showed their support for women in Iran.
As protests in support of women in Iran continue across the world, we’ll keep this story updated with any new information as it happens.