The death of Mahsa Amini, a 22 year old Iranian woman, has shaken the world. Amini was arrested on September 13th after disobeying the Iranian government implemented rule to wear a hijab without showing hair. She was wearing the hijab loosely, showing strands of hair. She was taken into custody by the Guidance Patrol, or morality police, where they said she had a heart attack and fell into a coma. However, women detained alongside her said she was beaten nearly to death while in transport. She was eventually taken to Kasra hospital in Tehran, where she died two days later in the intensive care unit. The Amini family lawyer, Saleh Nikbakht, said the family demands a committee look into the cause of her death, along with all police footage released.
Just hours after her murder, protests erupted in her home town, then throughout the country and within days they spread across the world. Folks everywhere joined the cause. Word spread quickly and protests became violent when police clashed with demonstrators. According to Reuters, at least 185 people have died and 1,070 demonstrators have suffered injuries to date. Tear gas and live rounds are being used across the country. Fran Hales (@fh_photos) has documented some of these protests in London, England.
People rushed the streets of London in protest of the Iranian government and their ruthless enforcers. They organized demonstrations and expressed their anger with pride. The public across the world has started cutting their hair and holding it up in protest. Demonstrators are also burning hijabs in protest of harsh regulations that cause deaths to those who do not comply.
One woman in particular stood out amongst a London crowd. This women protested without a shirt, symbolizing empowerment and freedom. She painted her body with phrases and hashtags, including "Women, Life, Freedom," "#MahsaAmini" and "#WomensRevolution." Supporters gathered and cheered for her. In one of Hales' photos, this woman held a peace sign in the air. She appears confident and almost peaceful in this moment.
People everywhere are standing with the women of Iran for women's rights across the world. Hales sees the oppression of women by the government as using religion as an excuse to control them. "Whether a woman is for the hijab or against it, it's an important moment in time... Islamic women are standing up for themselves and people in other countries are being a voice and a face for them."
Hales described the danger Iranian families are in because of their family member's continued protesting. She commented on the bravery of showing their faces and standing up for women's rights amidst this danger.
Mahsa Amini has become a symbol for women's rights, and her murder an outlet for anger and progress. Hales is grateful to have a platform where she can spread awareness on this death and its continuing influence. She reflected, "This could be a pivotal moment, and it might have a domino effect."