"The burning bodies of Iranian women cry out their refusal of the infernal order imposed on them"

After the suicide by fire of a young Iranian woman condemned for having attended a football match, the writer and sociologist links this immolation to the more general fight for freedom and against Islamist oppression in this country.

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Tribune. In early September, a young woman immolated herself before Tehran's Islamic Revolutionary Court. She had just been sentenced to prison for daring to enter a stadium in 2018 and attend a football match. Her name was Sahar, "dawn" in Persian. In Iranian poetry and song, this word evokes the end of darkness, the hope of deliverance. Did not the suicidal act of Sahar Khodayari, which led to his death shortly afterwards, not say, on the contrary, a deep despair?

Read also A young Iranian woman, arrested for wanting to attend a football game, set herself on fire

In response to the massive indignation caused by her tragic death and calls to lift the ban on women entering the stadiums, media outlets spread the word that Sahar's father said that his daughter was suffering from delusions. Similar comments were made in February 1994 when Homa Darabi, a 53-year-old pediatrician, moved to Tehran. A means for the Islamist power to silence the struggle of this progressive woman against misogynistic measures that led to her dismissal from her post at the university.

Her complaint remained unresolved and the continuous harassment she suffered forced her to abandon all professional activity. One day she left her house and, in the open street, set her body on fire. Some say she shouted: "Down with despotism! Long live freedom ! " Others refute these remarks. But whatever. Does not this scene clearly state what Homa Darabi meant to tell us? As a doctor, she knew less painful ways of ending her life. However, it is in the fire that she delivered her body, and she did it in a public place, in the eyes of all.

Immolation, the first means of suicide among Iranian women

"Burn with pain and do with" is an old Persian expression well known in Iran to qualify an extreme degree of patience in the crossing of misfortunes. The burning bodies of Sahar and Homa cry, on the contrary, their refusal to do with the infernal order imposed upon them. Besides, is not the image of their immolation an incarnation of the hell they lived?

This question is all the more important since, in the early 2000s, reports based on the findings of medical examiners attest that self-immolation is the first means of suicide among Iranian women. Other studies show us that poverty, the lack of autonomy and the weight of harsh patriarchal traditions – all factors reinforced by the Islamist rule – favor, in certain regions and among certain social strata, the use of women in this process. a form of suicide by which, under the eyes of their relatives, they stage the hell in which they live and of which these relatives are very often the cerberers.


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