Sunday marked the 40th anniversary of a tragic event in Iranian history, when ten courageous women were executed by the government for simply refusing to renounce their faith. This somber occasion has sparked renewed activism, with advocates calling for change and justice for Iranian women. Recent protests in Iran have brought attention to the plight of women, shedding light on historical events, such as the executions of these ten Baha'i women on June 18, 1983.
The ten women faced an agonizing choice - either renounce their religion or face execution by hanging. Unyielding in their faith, they chose the latter, and one by one, the government carried out their cruel sentences. Marjan Keypour, founder of the Alliance For Rights of All Minorities, recounted the heartbreaking moment of the executions, as the women remained steadfast in their beliefs, inspiring courage in the face of adversity.
The ten Baha'i women had been imprisoned and tortured for months before their executions, all for the simple act of teaching their faith, which the Iranian government perceived as a threat to Islam. Ruhi Jahanpour, who was also imprisoned alongside these women, spoke of the harrowing experience of witnessing their torture and ultimate deaths.
In response to this tragic history and the ongoing struggle for gender equality in Iran, the NGO Baha'i International Community has initiated a campaign to honor the executed women. Artists from around the world have joined in solidarity, contributing projects to raise awareness of the continued fight for women's rights in Iran.
For Mahin Saber, whose sister was among the ten executed women, the campaign represents a call for change and freedom for Iranian women. Her sister, Samin, chose to sacrifice her life in the hope of contributing to the liberation of other women in the country.
While the extreme persecution of Baha'is in Iran has lessened over time, women in the country still face violence and discrimination. Activist Marjan Keypour, who authored a study on femicide in Iran, highlights the alarming rate of violence against women. Femicide, the act of murdering women based solely on their gender, remains a grim reality in the country.
Keypour's report revealed that in 2022 alone, there were 191 reported cases of femicide, often perpetrated under the guise of honor or family disputes. Shockingly, many of the perpetrators evade justice, as the Iranian legal system fails to adequately protect women's rights.
Despite criticism from the United States and other countries, Iranian officials have rejected claims of systemic persecution of women. Efforts to introduce legal protections for women in Parliament have stalled, but activists remain hopeful that the sacrifices of the ten executed women and the ongoing advocacy will pave the way for a brighter future for Iranian women.
The rallying cries of activists, including Marjan Keypour, echo the determination and resilience of those fighting for gender equality and justice in Iran. As the world stands witness to their struggle, the hope is that international support and continued activism will drive positive change and progress for women's rights in Iran.