Iran Backs From Dialogue Over Mention Of Woman’s Rights Protests

According to a Reuters article posted last Monday, Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian will not attend the Raisina Dialogue in India after conference organizers posted a video showing Iranian women cutting their hair in what Austrian news network ORF describes as “a symbol of protest against the Islamic Republic’s strict hijab rules.” The protests, which Iran has largely put down over the last couple of months, began in September after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was killed after being tortured in police custody for failing to wear hijab to authorities’ satisfaction.

“She [Amini] was detained on the allegation of disregarding the state’s rigorous clothing rule for women by improperly donning the headscarf,” writes, and she was killed for it. As a result, many women went to protest to oppose the stringent hijab laws, and over the more than five months these protests have raged, hundreds of protestors have joined Amini in death. Authorities have killed over 531 protestors, including an estimated 71 children, says, and according to the Iran Human Rights Organization, the Islamic Republic “executed at least 55 people linked to the protests” in the first 26 days of 2023. A further 107 more are at “imminent risk of execution,” the organization says.

According to, this nationwide protest against the Iranian regime is not limited to fury over Amini’s murder. Nor are the murders linked to that protest isolated examples of femicide. A 2021 report from the United Nations concludes that women and girls may as well be “second class citizens” in Iran, citing the continued legality of marriages involving girls as young as 10 years old and a lack of adequate protections against domestic violence.

Ambassador and permanent representative of Iran to the United Nations Amir Saeed said these data have no claim – the report “fabricated arguments using fake narratives,” Saeed said. But these are only some of the conditions the report marked as requiring urgent attention.

“In several areas of their lives, including in marriage, divorce, employment, and culture, Iranian women are either restricted or need permission from their husbands or paternal guardians, depriving them of their autonomy and human dignity,” author Javaid Rehman wrote in the report. “These constructs are completely unacceptable and must be reformed now.”

As a result of Rehman’s report, the U.N. Commission on Women expelled Iran from its list of members in December 2022. Other international entities have also responded. In October 2022, for example, the United States imposed targeted sanctions on “high-ranking officials within the morality police” and other human rights abusers in the Iranian government. However, these responses haven’t seemed to provoke any real change. Iran’s high officials have shown discontent with the “baseless” response from the West, refusing to respond to sanctions and backing away from dialogues – but rights for Iranian women and girls are still close to nonexistent, and the West has done little to address this beyond sitting and waiting for the next big protest. The world has taken no new action to protect or support the women who are still being intimidated and killed.

More than imposing sanctions, which harm Iranian citizens and prevent any possibility of friendly relations, the world should address Iran more civilly, in a way that allows room for both conversation and learning. Other nations should strive to work with Iran, advocating for human rights like the ones Iranian women and girls currently lack and helping the country grow into a more stable society.

At the same time, we must not forget about the situation that Iranian women and girls are facing. Sending thoughts and prayers while protestors’ death tolls grow is not enough – we must encourage the change that is needed. Both parties – but especially the government, as the side bearing the majority of Iran’s power – should open their hearts and mind to dialogue. Third-party mediators, like international countries or other neutral entities, could aid negotiations.

Violence is never the answer. Rather than backing from dialogue and refusing to acknowledge the battle its citizens are fighting for equal rights, Iran ought to listen and learn from the actions of its people and the reactions of international bodies. We are better than oppression and inequitable treatment – women deserve to be treated with fairness and dignity. Laws which push against freedom and seek to punish anyone who may speak differently have no place in a peaceful future. As Iran’s women continue to battle for their equal rights, the government should revise its discriminatory laws and create a time of prosperity and equity for everyone.