Iran has recently been in the news after violent protests have broken out in the country. These protests have led to the killing of at least 50 people till now. The protests have been going on since over a week over the killing of Mahsa Amini. The Iranian Police authorities detained Amini for not dressing what they deem as “modest”.
Allegedly, Iran’s “moral police” called the “Basij” are believed to be responsible for Amini’s death. However, the Iranian authorities claim that the 22-year-old woman died of a heart attack while staying in a “guidance center”– a type of re-education center where women are taught how to follow Iran’s rules on female clothing. They also released a CCTV video clip in which Amini is seen collapsing “on her own”.
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Crimes against women that happened around the same time
Since August, there have been four alleged killings of women that are political in nature, including Mahsa Amini. However, the other incidents of killings neither made it to the international media nor did they evoke the same outrage from countries, particularly the US and Israel. These are the countries that released statements of condemnation and solidarity for Amini. But failed to mention or even acknowledge the women that were subjected to crimes around the same time. One can only wonder why the killing of Mahsa Amini in one part of the world evokes international political attention and outrage. But the killings of the other women don’t even make it to the news.
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On September 20, the US troops in Baghdad shot and killed a 15-year-old Iraqi girl Zainab Essam al-Khazali. The American soldiers were stationed at the Victoria military complex, which is close to the airport in Baghdad. The US bullet killed Zainab while assisting her father on the family farm. The first important question here would be why would American forces conduct their training exercises in neighborhoods that were obviously populated.
The US troops that killed the 15-year-old girl were practicing military training in Baghdad. The incident occurred close to the notorious Abu Ghraib jail. It is the same place where members of the US Army and the Central Intelligence Agency were implicated in a string of war crimes and human rights abuses against detainees during the invasion of Iraq in 2004. The murder, which was referred to as a “random shooting,” is the subject of an inquiry, according to a statement from the Iraqi Security Media Cell.
No Outrage From the Western Media
Zainab’s killing has received little to no attention from the western media. Apart from the local news, the main platform where people talked of this heinous crime was the social media site Twitter. Highlighting no media coverage of this killing, the users pointed out the hypocrisy of the western media. Twitter users claimed that the world would have gone insane if the crime had been done by a nation other than the United States.
On September 15, police found two Dalit sisters hanging in Lakhimpur Kheri district of Uttar Pradesh state in India. The police later said that they were raped before being killed. The Dalits belong to the most marginalized and persecuted caste in India. The police named six suspects Chotu, Junaid, Suhail, Hafizul Rehman, Karimuddin, and Arif. “The girls and all of the accused are from the same village. Two of the accused were the “lovers’ of the Dalit sisters. The accused strangled and hanged them later, when the girls began urging them for marriage, according to Lakhimpur police. “I demand justice, the culprits should be hanged,” says the father of the victims in the Lakhimpur Kheri murder case.
History of Crime Against Dalits, Particularly Women, And Negligible Media Coverage
India has been infamous for caste discrimination and violence against Dalits, particularly Dalit women. Caste and gender discrimination have doubly oppressed the Dalit women in India. However, despite a bloody history of patriarchy and caste discrimination against women, there has been negligible international media coverage or outrage against these crimes. Due to this, there has emerged a pattern of insensitivity as well as impunity regarding these crimes.
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On August 22, a police-involved shooting in Biloxi, Mississippi killed Mable Arrington, a 42-year-old African-American woman. Crimes against African-American people get minimal and tokenistic global attention. The media gave little to no attention to the killing of Arrington. Even the local media coverage didn’t provide any extensive information. Even the name and status of the officer involved are currently unknown. But the Biloxi Police reported no injuries caused to the officers. What led up to the shooting is also unknown, a local TV station reported. The political leaders in the United Nations are yet to condemn this killing, while the family of Arrington awaits justice.
Double Standards of International Media
The incidents of violence against Dalit women in India have not gained any significant space in the western media. And the African-American murders barely garner any international attention.
No other story has received the level of consideration and coverage by the international media that the killing of Mahsa Amini has. Israel, tweeting about it from its official account, is also one of Iran’s biggest geostrategic rivals.
Burning of hijabs and cutting of hair by women during protests within Iran are being interpreted as progressive signs of “regime” change by western media. Western media has surfaced arguments regarding the hijab’s centrality to Islam. It has also highlighted the Islamic governments’ obsession” to enforce it. Meanwhile, Muslim women in India are currently protesting for the right to wear the hijab. But that never made it to western media’s narrative on women’s right to choose.
The hijab-clad Zainab al Khazali is of no political significance to the politicians at a time when the US and Iran are renegotiating the nuclear deal. The war in Ukraine has caused Europe to be desperate for gas and materials, so condemning Zainab’s killing doesn’t serve anyone’s geo-political motives.
Some women are forced to wear the Hijab, while others are forced to remove it. The forced veiling and the forced removal of a veil both have utter disregard for a woman’s agency. There is no middle ground where she could choose for herself. Perhaps the middle ground serves no one’s political interests.