Injury of 16-year-old Iranian girl not wearing headscarf in Tehran sparks anger

A mysterious injury suffered by a 16-year-old girl who boarded a Metro train in Iran’s capital without a headscarf has reignited anger just after the one-year anniversary of the death of Mahsa Amini and the nationwide protests it sparked.

Issued on:

4 min

What happened in the few seconds after Armita Geravand entered the train on Sunday remain in question. While a friend told Iranian state television that she hit her head on the station’s platform, the soundless footage aired by the broadcaster from outside of the car is blocked by a bystander. Just seconds later, her limp body is carried off.

Geravand’s mother and father appeared in state media footage saying a blood pressure issue, a fall or perhaps both contributed to their daughter’s injury.

Activists abroad have alleged Geravand may have been pushed or attacked because she was not wearing the hijab. They demand an independent investigation by the United Nations’ fact-finding mission on Iran, citing the theocracy’s use of pressure on victims’ families and state TV’s history of airing hundreds of coerced confessions.

Geravand’s injury also comes as Iran has put its morality police – whom activists implicate in Amini’s death over her alleged loose hijab – back on the street, and as lawmakers push to enforce even stricter penalties for those flouting the required head covering.

“Girls are subjected to violence on the streets, and then their families are compelled to protect the government responsible for that violence,” said Hadi Ghaemi, the executive director of the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran.

For observant Muslim women, the head covering is a sign of piety before God and modesty in front of men outside their families. In Iran, the hijab – and the all-encompassing black chador worn by some – has long been a political symbol as well, particularly after becoming mandatory in the years following the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Iran and neighboring Taliban-ruled Afghanistan are the only countries where the hijab remains mandatory for women.

Since Amini’s death and the large-scale protests subsided, many women in Tehran can be seen without the hijab in defiance of the law.

Geravand suffered her injury Sunday morning at the Meydan-E Shohada, or Martyrs’ Square, Metro station in southern Tehran. Rumors about how she suffered the injury quickly circulated.

By Tuesday, the Hengaw Organization for Human Rights, which reports on abuses in Iran’s western Kurdish region, published a photograph it said showed Geravand at the hospital, her head wrapped in bandages as she remains in a coma.

Geravand “was physically attacked by authorities in the Shohada station at Tehran Metro for what they perceived as noncompliance with the compulsory hijab,” Hengaw alleged, citing reports it said it received. “As a result, she sustained severe injuries and was transported to the hospital.”

The Associated Press has not been able to confirm the exact circumstances of what caused Geravand’s injuries.

Late Wednesday, Iranian state television aired what appeared to be nearly all the surveillance camera footage covering the 16 minutes Geravand spent inside of the Metro station before her injury. She entered at 6:52 a.m., then went down an escalator. The sole gap, about a minute and a half, occurs before she reaches the turnstile gate where she uses her Metro card. The footage includes her shopping for a snack, then walking to and waiting on the platform for the train.

In the mute footage, Geravand, whom activists describe as a taekwondo athlete, appears calm and healthy. An AP frame-by-frame analysis of the footage showed no signs of the aired video being manipulated.

At 7:08 a.m., Geravand enters the No. 134 train car – the last on the train and likely a women-only compartment. A new conductor for the train walks up as she enters, his body blocking the view of door she walks through. Within four seconds, a woman steps backwards out of the train and just a sliver of Geravand’s head can be seen as she lies on the floor of the train. Women then pull Geravand’s limp body out and run for help as the train moves off.

Iranian state TV’s report, however, did not include any footage from inside the train itself and offered no explanation on why it hadn’t been released. Most train cars on the Tehran Metro have multiple CCTV cameras, which are viewable by security personnel.

“Refusing to publish the footage only increases doubts about the official narrative,” the Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights said.

Emergency medical technicians took Geravand to Fajr Hospital, which is at a Iranian air force base and one of the the closest medical facilities to the station. In the time since her injury, security forces have arrested a journalist for Shargh newspaper who went to the hospital, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. Shargh, a reformist newspaper, helped lead reporting surrounding Amini’s death as well.

Already, Geravand’s injury has drawn international attention, something Iran’s government has sought to dismiss. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock wrote online: “Once again a young woman in #Iran is fighting for her life. Just because she showed her hair on the subway. It’s unbearable.”

U.S. Deputy Special Envoy for Iran Abram Paley also wrote that he was “shocked and concerned about reports that Iran’s so-called morality police have assaulted 16-year-old Armita Geravand.”

Iranian authorities likely worry about this incident escalating into popular anger like in Amini’s case. Women continue to ignore the hijab law despite the growing crackdown. That includes what Shargh described as Tehran’s city government hiring of some 400 people as “hijab guards” to give verbal warnings, prevent uncovered women from entering subway cars and hand them over to police.


Source link

#Injury #16yearold #Iranian #girl #wearing #headscarf #Tehran #sparks #anger

Conservative Turkish women are turning their backs on Erdogan ahead of vote

Issued on:

Turkey – Turkey’s May 14 elections are looking uncertain for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan amid a sluggish economy, young Turks less enamoured with the ruling AKP and an opposition that is finally united. Support from conservative women, usually a pillar of his voting base, is also looking less robust ahead of the vote. FRANCE 24 reports.

“I liked him a lot, and I liked the party, as well,” Emine* says, when asked why she has voted for Erdogan for the past 20 years. This housewife lives in the Basaksehir district in Istanbul, one of the many neighbourhoods transformed by the ruling AKP’s urbanisation policy. She was in her early 30s when then candidate Erdogan, who ran as an MP in a March 2003 by-election, emerged as a beacon of hope for women like her: veiled, conservative women who felt marginalised and even disregarded.

The “AKP opened up new areas for conservative women by removing the headscarf ban”, Esra Ozcan tells FRANCE 24. The author of, “Mainstreaming the Headscarf: Islamist Politics and Women in the Turkish Media,” Ozcan cites the fact that veiled women can now serve as police officers, judges, university professors or elected political representatives – all of which was against the law unless they removed their headscarves until the AKP came to power.

“This is indeed a group that experienced an expansion of freedoms under [the] AKP,” says Ozcan, a senior professor of practice at Tulane University in New Orleans.  

Murat Yetkin, a well-known Turkish editorialist, says one of the reasons that explains Erdogan’s extraordinary popular appeal in the early 2000s was the authoritarian tendencies of the ruling coalition at the time that employed openly anti-Islamic rhetoric targeting veiled women. By denouncing this trend, the young charismatic leader became the champion of conservative women who, from then on, formed an important base of his support.

But 20 years later, “Women have changed,” says Ozlem Zengin, vice president of the AKP bloc in the Turkish parliament.

Those who were among Erdogan’s most ardent supporters in the early years  Erdogan has been president of Turkey since 2014 – could turn their backs on him on May 14 for the country’s presidential and legislative elections.

Tradition and domestic violence

Erdogan often reminds the Turkish public of how he helped strike down the headscarf ban. He believes he has done more for women than many of his predecessors, although many deem that this measure alone was not enough.

Erdogan’s speeches reveal a traditional vision of women’s role in society: above all, a woman is a mother (to three children, if possible) who also takes care of the elderly. It is an ideal that remains unchanging even as the country experiences rapid urbanisation and modernisation.

In today’s Turkey, women – even those who wear the veil – want the same opportunities and working conditions as men.

When Erdogan pulled Turkey out of the Istanbul Convention on violence against women in July 2021 it confirmed his anachronistic tendencies. In recent years, the Erdogan government has taken a strong stance in favour of traditional family values and against the LGBT “propaganda” embraced by the Western world and the “normalisation” of homosexuality.

With the upcoming elections likely to be Erdogan’s most contested yet, the decision to incorporate two Islamist parties into his coalition that have called for the annulment of a law protecting women from domestic violence is dividing members of the AKP, a rare feat.

Red line

Zengin, 53, did not mince her words when she stated that the passage of law 6284 would be a “red line”, a comment that attracted a fireball of criticism and threats coming from her own political party. She later tried to put out the flames. “We’re sorry. I don’t want to say anything more about this law. I’m tired. I am saddened when I see the situation of our community. I did not say that the law couldn’t be discussed. I only wish that we can discuss it in a more humane, decent and Islamic environment.”

 Among those that supported Zengin is the Kadem Foundation. It, too, is affiliated with the AKP and its leader is none other than one of Erdogan’s daughters. But the foundation published a tweet denouncing “an insulting and misogynistic campaign” and reminded its followers that “half of the voters who will cast their ballots are women”.

In another sign that Turkish society is evolving on these issues, an episode of “Kızılcık Serbeti“ (“Cranberry Sorbet”), one of Turkey’s most popular TV shows, ended last month with a veiled woman being killed by her husband. The country’s RTUK media regulatory council ruled that the scene “encouraged domestic violence”, demanding the producers pay a heavy fine and taking the show off the air for five weeks. Its fans were surprised to see a documentary on Islamophobia, notably featuring President Erdogan, airing on April 14 instead of the show.

23 women killed by men in March

 According to “We will Stop Feminicides”, 23 women were killed by men and 19 others died in suspicious circumstances in March 2023. The organisation itself is the target of a judicial inquiry and faces closure for “carrying out activities that are against the law and morality”. The last hearing took place in the beginning of April and was adjourned until September 13.

Conservative women are not a homogenous voting bloc in Turkey. But Ozcan is confident that the AKP “has lost sections of it”.

“Young conservative women want to see [the] AKP… go,” she writes. “They have been very disappointed [by the] AKP’s transformation from former victim to a new oppressor. These women identify as Muslims and they don’t want to see Muslims as oppressors.”

When asked why she won’t vote for Erdogan on May 14, Emine responds simply, “Because I started to think with my head.” Still, that doesn’t mean the 54-year-old will be voting for the opposition. For the first time ever, she says she will abstain. 

*Not her real name.

Source link

#Conservative #Turkish #women #turning #backs #Erdogan #ahead #vote