In the past four decades, Iranian women and girls have been at the forefront of resistance against the religious dictatorship and its misogynist laws, constitution, and suppression.
During recent nationwide demonstrations, including the protests over the sudden fuel price hike in November 2019, women’s leadership was highlighted more than ever, forcing officials to admit repeatedly to this fact.
These days, Iranian women’s struggle for personal and social freedoms, and fundamental rights, has severely terrified the authorities. The regime has intensified its systematic suppression and misogynistic measures in response to the women’s repeated attempts to make their voices heard.
Background of Misogyny in Iran
Since the mullahs took power in February 1979, regime founder Ruhollah Khomeini institutionalized misogynism and gender apartheid within the new theocratic tyranny.
Khomeini rushed his thugs, the Hezbollah forces, onto the streets to suppress women who defied the mandatory hijab. “Either scarf or stick on the head,” chanted Khomeini’s loyalists. Since then, the people of Iran named them club-wielders due to their penchant to use clubs against any dissent.
At the time, the opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), strongly condemned the regime’s misogynist measures under the banner of Islam and religious beliefs.
The MEK’s condemnation was a significant blow to Khomeini’s dreams of establishing an “Islamic empire,” because the organization was the most prominent Muslim organization against the toppled monarchic dictatorship.
In March 1979, a group of women held a grand march in Tehran, protesting the regime’s misogynist policies, including the compulsory hijab. Khomeini dispatched Hezbollah forces to crack down on women. However, MEK female members wearing scarves held a human chain around the protesting women, which prevented Khomeini’s forces from dispersing the protest. Club-wielder injured many MEK female members.
Ultimately, Khomeini’s thugs failed to stop the march. The MEK proved that Khomeini had exploited religion to maintain his power on power and that his claims about protecting Islam were utterly false.
Nevertheless, Khomeini implemented his misogynistic measures despite women’s objections and unilaterally imposed the compulsory hijab and eventually implemented it by the force of the club.
Iranian women, however, have continued their resistance during the past four decades, completely refusing the submit to the regime’s medieval practices. In a bid to quell the women’s struggle for fundamental rights, the mullahs formed around 28 oppressive agencies, which only further strengthened women’s determination for anti-regime activities.
For instance, authorities recently banned women from attending and watching a soccer match between Iran’s national soccer team and Lebanon’s in Mashhad. Security forces fired teargas into the crowd and sprayed pepper on the protesting women to disperse them.
The regime prohibited women from entering the stadium, even though it had sold tickets to a small number of women and had bragged about ceasing its antiquated laws in this context. True to form, the mullahs broke their commitment at the last moment, prompting public fury.
Following this flagrant suppression, the Iranian regime’s president Ebrahim Raisi, infamous for being the ‘butcher of Tehran’ for his involvement in the mass killing of political prisoners in 1988, held a meeting with sociocultural activists in Khorasan Razavi Province.
The Mehr news agency, affiliated with the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), quoted Raisi in its April 1 dispatch as saying, “There are nearly 28 agencies responsible for enforcing the hijab.”
Raisi’s remarks are an apparent admission to the regime’s failing misogynist measures against women and arouse severe condemnations inside the country and abroad. Furthermore, he implicitly revealed that the regime can no longer thwart women’s activities and that the suppression has backfired as the recent clampdown in Mashhad ignited a wave of national solidarity with women across Iran.
Indeed, this solidarity was also experienced during nationwide protests in January 2018, November 2019, and March 2020. At the time, security, and intelligence commanders repeatedly highlighted women’s roles in fomenting and leading uprisings in various cities.
Moreover, women continue to organize and lead many civil protests and anti-regime activities across the country, with each event seriously terrifying the mullahs about their regime’s future. Therefore, they are desperate to intensify their misogynist measures to counteract the entire society and delay their ultimate downfall.