Several days ago, 18 year old Hediye, who has been detained/imprisoned on Manus Island by the Australian Gillard Labor government, posted this story on an asylum seekers facebook site. I am reposting it here on my blog so it can easily continue to be found.
Many women in Australia and other Western countries take for granted freedoms that are denied Hidaye and other Iranian women who are harrassed, arrested and imprisoned when they resist strict dresscodes and other forms of patriarchal discrimination. Hidaye has committed no crime. She has made a bid for freedom. She deserves the support of feminists and human rights activists everywhere. Instead she is locked up with no information about how long she will be detained or even how she can pursue her refugee claim. Yet, she continues to bravely send news of fellow detainees who self-harm, traumatised women who wail and cry out in the night, and children who ask their parents 'why did you bring me here?'
Here's Hediye's story - please help make sure her voice is heard.
Patriarchy is alive and thriving in Iran where Iranian authorities take a hard-line approach to women, who don't abide by the strictest rules set out by Islamic law. Women are not allowed to go to the stadium. Women are not allowed to drive a motorcycle. After divorce women are not allowed custody of their children. Lots of women are hit by their husbands but they don't have any rights to complain about it. In comparison, a man and a woman with the same education, opportunity and skill, the woman has no chance at all and also they don't get paid the same as males. If a woman cheats on her husband the government can stone her. Sometimes when they arrest girls they abuse them. In Iran, police charge you because of long nails. Men are allowed to have four wives. Women are not allowed to be a singer.
There was always something in Iran that stopped me from achieving my goals. Women have no rights in Iran. They are all dying slowly. Morality police travelled around in green cars, checking for boy/girl's behaviour, making sure boys didn't have western hair styles, etc. I was arrested in Tehran because I was not wearing my hijab correctly. They fined me many times. I paid lots of money. Whenever I saw a green car I ran away from them.
During my high school years I got into trouble. The teacher was always monitoring me and made me pray, read the Quran and appear in Islamic ceremony. I'm agnostic; I didn't want to do those kind of things. My teacher told me "you are getting in trouble, Hediye". Then I felt unsafe. The husband of the principle at my school worked for the SEPAH (Iranian Military branch that protects the Islamic systems and revolutionary guards) so I just felt unsafe and scared. I didn't want to be separated from my family. I didn't want to go to jail. I didn't want to be hung. I didn't want to be abused by the government. So I left everything; my friends, family and lot of things.
All I want is safety, justice, freedom and honesty. I never found them in my country.
I just want a life which is the same as any other 18 year old girl. I'm full of wishes and hopes but... Now I'm here in Manus Island without any future.