In another tragic story that has drawn attention from around the world, Armita Garavand, a 16-year-old girl, was hospitalized after being violently assaulted in Tehran. Armita was taken to the hospital after falling unconscious while entering the metro vehicle with her hair exposed in surveillance footage that was made public by Iran’s state media. Later footage showed Armita being carried out of the train compartment while unconscious. The Hengaw Organization for Human Rights, an Iranian Kurdish human rights group, claims that Armita was severely physically assaulted by Iran’s morality police after they accused her of “disobeying’” the nation’s dress code, despite having no video evidence of the events inside the train.
Authorities, on the other hand, have denied such claims and declared that Armita fainted as a result of a dip in her blood pressure because she “skipped breakfast.” Armita is still unconscious and getting care in the intensive care section of a military hospital in Tehran, where she is being watched over.
Her case coincides with Mahsa Amini’s death. A year ago, Amini was imprisoned and later died after being violently assaulted by the nation’s morality police for allegedly breaking tight hijab restrictions. Both cases are linked to President Ebrahim Raisi’s efforts to impose a strict Hijabi-based dress code for women, which has been in effect since the Islamic Revolution of 1979.
Interviews with Armita’s family members were done by journalist Farzad Seifikaran, who first covered this tragedy for The New York Times. Her family claims that Armita and two friends got into a fight with morality police officials for having their hair exposed while riding the train. They affirmed that one of the officials pushed Armita during the altercation, causing her to fall and hit her head against a metal item, leading to serious brain hemorrhaging.
The official description of the incident was reiterated in an interview with Armita’s parents that was published by the state news channel IRNA. Shahin Ahmadi, Armita’s mother, said, “My daughter, I think her blood pressure dropped. I don’t know what, but I think they say that her blood pressure dropped, then she fell down and her head hit the edge of the metro.” She clarified that the event happened as her daughter was going to school around 7:00 a.m. on the Shahada Metro. Armita’s father made sure to highlight during the interview that his daughter was healthy and wasn’t taking any medicine. According to IRNA, both parents insisted that the incidents were unintentional and asked for prayers for their daughter’s recovery.
However, many Iranians are skeptical of the official accounts of the occurrence. In a subsequent press statement, the Hengaw Organization for Human Rights said that Armita’s mother had been imprisoned by Iranian authorities and that Armita hadn’t heard from her since Wednesday night. In addition, the group claimed that the IRNA-published interview with Armita’s parents was done under the “intense presence and pressure of security forces.”
Security guards are reportedly guarding Armita in the hospital, and human rights organizations have asserted that officials have gone so far as to threaten to jail family members if they speak to the media. According to the editors of the publication Shargh, a journalist who had interviewed Ahmadi was also taken into custody and arrested.
Some claim that this occurrence reveals a more serious underlying problem due to the tight security measures and the repression of journalists. “Transparency means all the security agents leave Fajr Air Force Hospital and the surrounding areas, and journalists are allowed to report on what happened to the 16-year-old girl,” tweeted Mohsen Borhani, a lawyer in Tehran. Making news about such an incident is not against the law in this country.
Iran has seen major assaults against women during the past year. For their part in poisoning hundreds of schoolgirls around the nation with poisonous gas, over 100 people were detained in March. Since at least November 2022, these attacks have largely targeted girls’ schools in different cities. The specific reason for these attacks is still unknown, although theories range from extreme religious organizations opposing women’s education to targeting young girls who had taken part in rallies after Amini’s passing.
The Iranian government currently requires women to wear a headscarf, but hundreds of women don’t as a form of defiance. As the nation has cautioned women that facial recognition technology can be used to later charge them for their offenses, this move contains risks.
Iran’s Path to Global Openness:
The future direction of Iran’s attitude toward women’s rights and global openness is a complicated and controversial topic. Although it is challenging to make a certain prediction, there are certain important aspects to take into consideration. Iran has gone through phases of comparative openness and conservative pushback. The choices made by Iran’s leadership and the geopolitical environment may determine its course.
Iran has made attempts in recent years to modernize and become more open to the outside world. One such effort was the Iran Nuclear Deal, which was reached in 2015 with the intention of easing sanctions and enhancing diplomatic ties. However, the election of President Ebrahim Raisi, who has adopted a more conservative posture, changed the political landscape of the nation. His administration has tightened dress code enforcement and faced criticism for targeting women’s rights advocates.
Iran and Saudi Arabia have diverse social structures and worldviews in comparison. Under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia has also started along a path of reform, including permitting women to drive and go to sporting events, which is a step in the right direction. In terms of gender equality and human rights, both nations still have a long way to go.
It’s critical to emphasize the tenacity and resolve of Iranian women who, in spite of countless obstacles, continue to fight for their rights. Iranian feminists have led the charge in calling for reform, promoting gender equality, and opposing restrictive gender norms and laws. They serve as a symbol of the strength of grassroots movements and the possibility for social change.
Iran has a serious problem with violence against women. Even if there have been some legislative changes recently, such as changes to the legislation regarding acid assaults and steps to stop domestic violence, there are still big problems. Iranian women continue to experience discrimination and violence, including domestic violence, sexual harassment, and honor killings.
The Iranian government has come under fire for how it has handled these issues, notably the lack of comprehensive legal measures to combat gender-based violence and the paltry safeguards provided to survivors. There are doubts concerning Iran’s treatment of women’s rights, which are voiced by international human rights organizations.
Armita Garavand’s hospitalization and Mahsa Amini’s death serve as a painful reminder of the difficulties women in Iran experience when it comes to exercising their rights and freedoms, especially when it comes to issues involving dress restrictions and personal choice. Those cases have sparked an intense discussion about the status of women’s rights in the nation and have garnered considerable condemnation on a national and international level. It also highlights the pressing necessity for a closer investigation of Iranian human rights, particularly those pertaining to women’s difficulties. The fate of Iranian women’s rights and Iran’s path to global openness are complicated and will depend on a number of factors, including its leadership, societal forces, and international ties. While progress has been made in some areas, significant challenges remain, and the voices of Iranian feminists and human rights advocates are crucial in pushing for positive change and the protection of women’s rights in the country.