Villanova Community Shows Support for Iranian Women


Students, faculty and staff show their support for women in Iran.

Isabella Balian, Staff Writer

Women in Iran are mourning the loss of Mahsa (Zhina) Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman beaten to death by the morality police after being arrested for improperly wearing a hijab. The morality police are a group of men rigidly punishing women for not properly covering their hair or being modest enough for their standards. Amini was arrested and taken to a “re-education center,” which was allegedly in the back of a white van, for not abiding by the state’s hijab rules. 

Her death has sparked mass protest and attention to gender inequality and gender-based violence in Iran by the oppressive regime that has been in power since 1979. More than 40 people have been killed, and the government has taken extremely violent measures by killing children, arresting women and shutting down the Internet. 

Last Wednesday, passionate Villanova students held a rally in front of the Oreo in solidarity with the brave Iranian people fighting for change and mourning the death of those lost. Students held up signs with the Iranian flag and photos to educate the Villanova community and spark conversation around the topic. 

“The purpose of the event is to spread awareness of the injustices that Iranian women face by not having the right to choose whether or not to cover their hair,” a Villanova student said. “We also stand in solidarity with Iranian women as they bravely fight for their rights.” 

Protestors in Iran that women should have the right to choose whether or not to wear a hijab and fight against the enforcement of rules around that choice. Even before protests broke out, many women fled Iran due to the unfair rules surrounding wearing a hijab and restrictive laws toward women’s rights. Many Iranian women have also been reflecting on the bigger picture of the issue, realizing that it is not just about the wearing of hijabs, but the overall scope of women’s and basic human rights. 

Since the protests broke out in Iran, a lot of Iranians are relying on the international community to spread the message online through social media platforms. The protest has united people of all social identities and classes, all coming together to protest for the fall of the regime. There are civilian women, students, children and many Iranians fighting and dying for their freedom every day. 

Villanova students and community rallying in support of Iranian women believe that it is an individual’s right to choose if they would like to wear a hijab or not and are in support of these brave women fighting for their rights. Additionally, they recognize the Internet shutdown and the significance of the international community standing beside them. 

Many people question the importance of this event and its relation to Villanova students. Why should we care? Despite Villanova’s mission of truth, unity and love, students sometimes bypass certain areas of activism, especially international causes. Villanova’s student involvement sphere has lots of ethnic cultural organizations to provide an opportunity for Villanova students to become more involved and educated on international matters. 

“VMESA (Villanova Middle Eastern Students Association) is working to create a community for Middle Eastern students on campus while also educating the greater Villanova community on the various issues our people face,” the anonymous Villanova student said. “As an institution that preaches ‘Unitas, Veritas and Caritas,’ we must stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters fighting for their freedoms and rights.”