Iranian woman’s death latest in list of human rights abuses

September 30 — I get lists and leaderboards in my inbox every day.

They tell me which states or cities or schools or businesses are the best and the worst based on a myriad of factors. Most of the money. The least education. Highest unemployment. Lowest cost of living. Better quality of life. The worst opportunity for advancement.

We measure countries by a robust economy or a standing army. We judge by birth rate and lifespan. You name it and I can probably find you a study that tells you why a particular area is good or bad or just hanging out in the middle.

But what’s hard to measure is the reality that you probably learned in kindergarten or maybe Sunday school or maybe from a mother who scolded you or a grandmother who told you comforted.

The best measure of a company – or a person – is not what it owns or how high it climbs in a ranking. This is how they treat others.

There are always cruelties, big or small, that arise in any community. It is whether these actions are abhorred, accepted or advocated that makes the difference.

One of the starkest examples in the world right now is the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in Iran. It is a brutal truth of life that young women are dying every day everywhere at the hands of fathers, lovers, husbands and strangers. But Amini died in custody by the “morals police” for the crime of a few strands of hair protruding from her veil.

For this offence, she was savagely beaten on the head. Her family saw her skull hit as she was taken away in a car. The family told CNN she was admitted to hospital with brain damage.

But what makes the case more than your average assault is that it came with the approval of the government, which denied any improper treatment and claims that Amini died of a heart attack due to a undiagnosed heart disease.

No. Iran has a highly diagnosed condition of misogyny.

Iranian women were part of the February 1979 revolution that overthrew the shah and led the country to become an Islamic religious nation. They were women dressed like the women of New York or Pittsburgh at the time.

A month later, the Ayatollah decreed that all women must wear the hijab – a covering for the head and sometimes face and body that many observant Muslims choose to wear. The demand was an immediate signal that women should not enjoy the same rights or protections as men.

Whenever a group of people is singled out for different treatment from others, a society makes a statement. America did this when it declared freedom while enshrining slavery, and we are still struggling with the fallout. China does this today with its treatment of groups like the Uyghurs and the religious group Falun Gong. Around the world, countries are aggressively and openly oppressing the rights of women, other races, non-state religions, and LGBTQ people.

In a world where nations depend on our interactions to keep partnerships and economic health intact, we must find a way to hold each other accountable for gross human rights abuses instead of what we have always done – dance around problems for fear of being offended.

It’s hard for America as a nation to take action because of these global power scales — and tipping those in the Middle East is always volatile. But the American people can and should speak out in support, including by amplifying Iranian women’s calls for justice.

Do you think maybe he needs a list? Well there is. And what’s horrifying is that on Concern Worldwide US’s list of the worst countries for women, Iran doesn’t even make the top 10.

Lori Falce is the community engagement editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Lori at [email protected]

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