Culture

Why Are Women's Media Publications Completely Silent About Mahsa Amini's Death And The Human Rights Crisis In Iran?

By Gina Florio
·  7 min read
iran protest

In September, a 22-year-old woman named Mahsa Amini was arrested in Tehran, Iran for allegedly wearing her hijab improperly. She was beaten and suffered a fatal blow to the head that killed her days later. The entire country has erupted in protests and riots, and the Iranian Parliament has voted to execute 15,000 protestors. But why are women's media sites completely silent about this international news story?

Editor's Note: Recent reports indicate that the Iranian government did not call for 15,000 executions, but rather have arrested some protestors and handed down one protest-related death penalty on November 14.

The unthinkable happened to Mahsa Amini in September. The "morality police" apprehended her, arrested her, and beat her, resulting in a fatal blow to the head that caused her death—all because she allegedly wasn't wearing her hijab headscarf properly. Protests broke out all over the country, including the capital Tehran and Kurdistan, Amini's home province. Multiple women have torn off their hijab and even burned them in huge bonfires and thousands of men and teenagers have joined them in protest. The unprecedented civil unrest around the country has captured the attention of the entire world—except women's media, of course. There's no doubt we're watching one of the most devastating attacks on women's rights in Iran, and yet the same websites and magazines that routinely produce content about women's rights are all but silent about what's happening in Iran.

Mahsa Amini's Death Sparked a Social Justice Movement in Iran

In 1979, the Islamic Revolution in Iran resulted in women being policed on what they were allowed to wear in public. Since then, they're not permitted to show their hair, wear tight-fitting clothing, reveal their knees, or even wear clothes that are brightly colored. The "morality police" picked up Amini and beat her to death because she allegedly wasn't wearing her headscarf correctly. This is the kind of injustice that women in the West couldn't even dream of.

Reportedly, Amini was outside a metro station in Tehran when she was thrown into a police van and detained. She was beaten by officials and taken to a detention center. However, she fell into a coma and died only three days later. The "morality police" claim this story never happened and that she simply had a deadly heart attack when she was at their facility. Amini's father, Amjad Amini, was able to see his daughter for a moment when she was being held in the detention center, and he said she had bruises on her. He told the Ham-Mihan newspaper that it's ludicrous to insist that she died from a heart attack suddenly because she "did not have epilepsy, nor heart disease." According to Amini's father, "the worst disease she had was a cold." Although the officials showed video footage of the 22-year-old collapsing to the ground, Amini's father says it was edited.

Amini's untimely death has resulted in unprecedented unrest around the country. There are countless videos and photos of women burning their hijab, tearing off their baggy clothing in the street, and letting their hair blow in the wind while walking through traffic. Even some of the youth are being openly violent toward the religious leaders throughout the country and knocking off turbans of clerics. Resistance towards the regime grows bigger every day, threatening the leadership of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

227 out of Iran's 290 members of Parliament signed an open letter calling for the protestors to be taught a "good lesson," which would warn others of being openly insubordinate to the government.

“We, the representatives of this nation, ask all state officials, including the Judiciary, to treat those, who waged war (against the Islamic establishment) and attacked people’s life and property like the Daesh (terrorists), in a way that would serve as a good lesson in the shortest possible time,” the letter read. The lawmakers added that punishment would "prove to all that life, property, security and honor of our dear people is a red line for this [Islamic] establishment and that it would show no leniency to anybody in this regard."

The letter also claimed that the US incited the protests. As of this morning, it's being reported that Iran's Revolutionary Court issued its first death sentence linked to the countrywide protests. The person remains unnamed, but they were accused of "enmity against God" and "spreading corruption on Earth." The court claims that this person set fire to a government building. This human rights issue is becoming more and dangerous as the days pass by, but we can't help but notice that none of the women's media publications are reporting on this, including and especially the sites that often produce content focused on women's rights.

None of the Women's Media Sites Are Reporting on This Women's Rights Issue

The mainstream media has always been carefully selective about which stories they choose to cover and which ones they choose to sweep under the rug. The mainstream publications that create content specifically for women are no different. Sites like Bustle, Refinery29, and Cosmopolitan have always been outspoken about supporting and empowering women, and they routinely produce content that points to certain women's rights issues happening not only on American soil but around the world. However, these sites remain all but silent about Mahsa Amini's death and the ensuing protests across Iran. Why is it that one of the most devastating women's rights issues happening around the world isn't featured on these companies' sites and social media pages?

They dare to complain about women being discriminated against in Western society while they willingly turn away from the brutal and systemic rape, torture, and execution of women in Iran.

Refinery29, for example, is openly political and publishes a great deal of content about political and cultural issues that affect women. Some of the most recent articles on their News page include "The Violence Against Women Act isn't enough to protect women" and "Self-managed abortion may be the future—but it's complicated." The News page features a picture of Michelle Obama with the tagline "News and politics coverage by, for, and about women around the world," linking to their Twitter page, which has over 1 million followers. Refinery29 is a women's publication that offers news and politics coverage "about women around the world" and yet there is not a single article about Mahsa Amini or the Iranian protests that followed her death. Not one.

refinery29 iran

Bustle is yet another mainstream women's media publication that dedicates much time and effort to women's rights issues happening in the US and abroad. And yet only one article covers the death of Amini and the protests that followed. It was written on September 21 and there hasn't been another article written since. The same goes for Cosmopolitan—only one article exists about Mahsa Amini, detailing her arrest and death.

There's a women's rights atrocity taking place in Iran at the hands of the Islamic Republic and none of these adamantly pro-women sites are reporting on it? So far, there have been thousands of people arrested for protesting Amini's death, including hundreds of young girls. The Iranian Parliament voted to execute 15,000 protestors, which includes minors. But under Iranian law, you aren't allowed to execute a girl if she's a virgin. This has been known for some time, and the way that this has been handled in the past is allowing for young girls to be raped by prison guards the night before they're executed. This has been documented for many years by journalists and activists (and even a former political leader). In 2014, a report was published that exposed the organized, systemic rape of virgin girls who were awaiting execution in prison, and there is no evidence to indicate that this practice has been abandoned.

Any virgins that are currently imprisoned (or will be imprisoned) for protesting Amini's death will likely be raped before being put to death. And yet none of the women's publications can even be bothered to cover this women's rights atrocity. Shame on all the so-called "progressive" editors and writers who have remained silent on this injustice, all because they are too scared to be seen as "Islamophobic." We're witnessing the ultimate female-focused injustice happening across the world, but all the mainstream women's publications choose to ignore it and turn a blind eye. Total radio silence.

Meanwhile, these publications continue to write content about how oppressed and mistreated women are in the United States. They dare to complain about women being discriminated against in Western society while they willingly turn away from the brutal and systemic rape, torture, and execution of women in Iran.