We Stand With Elnaz Rekabi
In not wearing her hijab, Elnaz Rekabi has become a symbol for the anti-regime movement. We hope she is safe and that her wellbeing is unthreatened, but we fear the worst.
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Feminism is about a woman’s right to expression and bodily autonomy. It’s about equal access to basic human rights. It is about freedom and liberty.
What is happening in Iran is gender apartheid. It is the reaction to years of female oppression justified by precedence, religion, and ethno-nationalist forces. It’s the reaction to being deprived of selfhood and agency. Garments themselves are not intrinsically oppressive, but they can be when a society dictates that they be worn. All women deserve the right to choose.
This movement is unprecedented. It is possibly the first counterrevolution in history to be led by young women—young women who are rejecting the theocratic fundamentalism conceived by the Islamic Republic of Iran.They have been met with tear gas, fatal beatings, and open fire. Peaceful protestors are bleeding out on the streets, their bodies the recipients of the unspeakable atrocities of police brutality.
It’s like drinking water. That’s how Karim Sadjadpour, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace senior fellow, compared the nonchalance with which Iranian security forces kill dissidents. At least 233 activists are estimated to have been killed since the protests broke out mid September. Of these victims, 32 are under the age of 18. Thousands have been arrested. Thousands are missing. Mahsa Amini was not the first to die. She was just the turning point.
Hours before Nika Shakarami’s disappearance, the 16-year-old was seen standing on a dumpster and burning her headscarf. She messaged her friend that she thought the police were chasing her. Ten days later, her family collected her body from a detention center.
Hadis Najafi, 23, was shot in the face and neck after recording a video message that reportedly said “I hope in a few years, when I look back, I will be happy that everything has changed for the better.”
The Iranian government claimed that 16-year-old Sarina Esmailzadeh jumped from a rooftop. She was reportedly beaten to death after posting “I always think, Why did I have to be born in Iran?”
When security forces raided Asra Panahi’s high school, demanding that students sing an anthem that praises Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, she refused. The 16-year-old was reportedly beaten to death.
In not wearing her hijab, Elnaz Rekabi has become a symbol for the anti-regime movement. Though we hope she is safe and that her wellbeing is unthreatened, we fear the worst.
We stand with Elnaz Rekabi’s and all women’s right to choose. We stand with women’s expression of free speech and exercise of liberty. We stand with those who shout in the streets of Iran: Women, life, and freedom.
Seeing everything happening, many members of the climbing community have wondered what they can do and how they can help. At the moment, it seems like the best thing we can do is continue to make ourselves heard, continue to be vocal in our support of Rekabi and what she stands for. With that in mind we contacted dozens of professional climbers and industry leaders, all of whom agree:
We herein signed believe in all women’s right to free speech and bodily autonomy. We stand with the women of Iran’s rightful demands and right to protest. We stand with their seeking of basic human rights.
Alberto Ginés López