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Iranian Artists Are Being Thrown In Jail For Going Against Government Regulations Against Women Singing And Dancing. What Kind Of Nonsensical Oppression Is This?

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I am not sure whether it is the dancer in me that is irate or the fact that I am a woman, and any form of oppression is just all too relatable, but this morning, coming across news of certain Iranian artists being jailed for going against government restrictions on women singing and dancing felt like a blow to my own stomach. At the cost of being booked for overuse of the phrase ‘women are never treated equally’, I regurgitate the need for feminism yet again for people to witness and realise just how threatened the society feels at the idea of us women doing anything apart of breathing at our own will.

I, coming from a country where am still allowed to speak my mind, to wear what I want, to dance to songs I like and to sing along to them, it sickens me to hear that in another part of the world at the same time, women aren’t so much as allowed to even sway to the tunes of their favourite melodies. Because even if they dared, they’d be put behind bars, as is what happened in Iran, after composer Mehdi Rajabian created a classical composition that featured the graceful movements of a female classical dancer.

You see, Iran is one of the most backward countries when it comes to women rights. A country where women and human rights are parked under separate categories, for women aren’t treated as much as humans, as they are as slaved puppets, till date the female population in Iran sees life from behind a veil. And while a lot of other countries have known to have put restrictions on several women rights like driving, abortion, being a single parent, leaving the county even without a male guardian, the fact that it has now imposed restrictions on women making merry by singing and dancing is a whole different low.

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“The judge told me I was charged with publishing a woman singing and a woman dancing in my latest project, which ’causes society to go into prostitution’,” Mr Rajabian said. Clearly highlighting the skewed and patriarchal mindset of the government of Iran, that equates the song and dance culture with provocation and prostitution, this is proof that the country needs a serious shakeup when it comes to women’s rights. He further shared with ABC that after Sony Music released his latest album online, along with a video featuring renowned Persian classical dancer Helia Bandeh, he was immediately taken into custody.

During interrogation, that went on for several hours, he was detained before his family could bail him out. Turns out, the Islamic Penal Code states that while singing and dancing is not illegal (oh the mercy), people can be prosecuted if the authorities feel their act is “indecent” or “immoral”. Conveniently parking a woman’s right to dance under an unambiguous umbrella of ‘morality’, once again with the burden of a nation’s pride, dignity and honour being shoved on the shoulders of a woman. Preferably non-dancer.

CHRI executive director Hadi Ghaemi said, “The repression of Iranian women singers and musicians is not only part of the broad denial of freedom of expression in Iran, where any political or artistic expression disapproved of by the authorities is forbidden and criminalised, it also reflects the intense cultural repression Iranian women face in all walks of life.”

And the fact that this wasn’t the first time that something like this happened, makes it all the troublesome. Ms Bandeh, another woman and dancer, who was arrested for teaching classical Persian dance to kids years ago shared, “Persian dance runs through my veins and without it I might just as well not be there at all. I felt they took my identity and there was nothing left inside of me.”

And just like that, imposing one restriction after another, is how the government systematically dismantles any hope for equality and reduces women to mere puppets, living at the mercy of men who decide for them.

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