Mahsa Amini death: Iranian women are 'harassed for their appearance in public,' says correspondent

20 September 2022, 17:06 | Updated: 20 September 2022, 17:12

Correspondent for Iran talks about state violence against women.

By Abbie Reynolds

Senior correspondent from Radio Free Europe Golnaz Esfandiari told Shelagh Fogarty the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini is an example of "state pressure and violence against women".

In Iran last week Mahsa Amini, 22, was arrested by morality police after being approached regarding how she was wearing her Hijab and trousers.

Masha's family were notified that shortly after her arrest she was taken to hospital where she later died.

Shelagh Fogarty spoke to Golnaz Esfandiari from Radio Free Europe (RFE) who is their Senior Correspondent for Iran.

Shelagh inquired: "How frequently are women arrested on the streets for what they have on their head or how they are wearing their clothes?"

The correspondent shared: "In the past months there has been an intensification on the crack down on women who are not fully observing the strict Hijab code.

"The rule became compulsory in 1981 and since then women have been harassed for their appearance in public."

"It is hard to find an Iranian woman that hasn't been warned, fined or detained for how they look in public," she claimed.

Golnaz said this has escalated under the new president Ebrahim Raisi. Claiming that since he came into power they have increased patrol carried out by morality police.

"They usually stand outside of big shopping centres or near the metro and they stop women, and they warn them and in some cases they take them to the police station where the 'educate' them."

Mahsa Amini, 22, passed away in Iran's Kasra Hospital after being arrested by morality police
Mahsa Amini, 22, passed away in Iran's Kasra Hospital after being arrested by morality police. Picture: Alamy

She gestured educate in inverted commas, "and that is what happened to Mahsa Amini" she shared.

Shelagh questioned what the Iranian police meant by "educate".

The correspondent said the police would describe it as educating women on following Hijab laws.

She went on to say: "We don't know what happened. The police said they arrested her and took her to the police station and there was no violence against her - that they just wanted to warn her."

The reporter outlined CCTV footage released by Iranian police of Mahsa Amini before her arrest.

She said she didn't observe an issue with how she was dressed saying, "she wore a long coat and a scarf" and "her hair is covered".

In the video Mahsa faints and is taken away, presumably to hospital where she later died.

Witnesses said she appeared to have been beaten and her family have said she had no health problems prior to the arrest. This has caused suspicions that has led to protests against the authorities in Iran.

Golnaz reported: "There was bleeding from her ears... some doctors said that according to that they [the police] had beaten her in the head.

"Regardless of whether she was beaten or not it highlights state pressure and state violence against women."

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