Iranian girls are the change-makers; they can best be described in just two words: courage and resilience
International Day of the Girl Child is an opportunity to remind ourselves of a future that is being built by creating opportunities for girls.
Unfortunately, due to the rule of a ruthless, misogynistic dictatorship in Iran, that under the guise of religion has established a brutal gender apartheid in the country, each year, we find ourselves reviewing the heart-wrenching plight of Iranian girls in various domains.
We have repeatedly written about how Iranian girls can face criminal punishment at the age of 9. The legal age for girls to marry in Iran is 13, and there are numerous exceptions that force them into early marriage even below this age.
We’ve written about the high statistics of child brides and child widows, along with the harms they endure, and about honor killings and the killing of teenage girls by their fathers, brothers, husbands, and male relatives.
We’ve written about poverty and malnutrition among innocent Iranian girls, and girls working on the streets and in garbage dumps. Those who suffer sexual abuse and even get killed. This is the 44-year story of the regime’s rule, which, worse than the Shah’s dictatorship, stifles the potential of Iranian girls and youth.
Iranian girls fight for their rights and do not give in
But there’s a bright side to all this darkness. Today, Iranian girls can best be described in just two words: courage and resilience.
Iranian girls suffer severe consequences for seeking their rights. But the enlightened girls of Iran, aware of their rights and inspired by four decades of struggle by Iranian women and girls, are willing to pay the price of achieving their rights and freedoms.
The fate of Armita Gavand, who lies in a coma on a hospital bed at this very moment, is a symbol of Iranian girls who refuse to succumb to coercion and force. They stand against the clerical regime’s repressive forces at the cost of their lives and well-being.
Just ten days ago, on the first of October, Armita Gavand was physically assaulted by a “veil watcher” at a metro station. As a result of this attack, she suffered a brain hemorrhage and has been in a state of cerebral death for ten days, confined to a hospital besieged by security forces and plainclothes agents.
Even her parents and sister have no access to her, and the medical team does not provide any updates on her condition. All of her relatives in Kuhdasht, Lorestan, are under security surveillance and pressure, and her classmates and schoolmates have been threatened not to speak to the media. Even the journalist who went to the hospital for a report was detained.
All these security measures for a girl who, according to the regime’s claim, allegedly fell down due to a sudden drop in blood pressure.
Armita’s crime was that she refused to wear the veil she had not freely chosen.
In another tragic example, we encounter Zahra Hatami, a young girl expelled from school due to the new Hijab and Chastity law, all because of her nail polish. This is a heartbreaking instance of the girls in this land.
Fearing that her father would force her into marriage due to her expulsion from school, she chose to end her own life. The death of Zahra is the result of the misogynistic laws of the ruling regime, both in terms of the mandatory Hijab and regarding the legal age of marriage and a father’s authority to compel his daughter into marriage.
And of course, last year, during the Iranian uprising, we saw that young Iranian girls between 14 and 17 were beaten to death in the streets or in school for participating in demonstrations or were thrown from the top of the building while escaping from the security forces.
We also witnessed how hundreds of girls’ schools became targets of chemical attacks by the regime for several months, aimed at seeking revenge on these courageous girls.
On the International Day of the Girl Child, we honor the memory of Sarina Esmailzadeh, Sarina Saedi, Nika Shakarami, Asra Panahi, Armita Qaem Maghami, Setareh Tajik, Mahsa Mogouii, Mona Naqib, Hasti Narouii, Helen Ahmadi, Diana Mahmoudi, Sadaf Movahhedi, Mahak Hashemi, Soha Etebari, Parmis Hamnava, Satayesh Sharifinia and dozens of other girls under 18 who sacrificed their lives for freedom during the 2022-2023 nationwide uprising. They and millions of other young women and girls are the force for change and the real change-makers in Iran.
And as always, we appeal for the world’s support for the brave women and girls in Iran.