Women’s rights is something I’ve been meaning to talk to you guys about for some time; but each time I think about it, I’m reminded that there are people who still view women as separate individuals when, in fact, we are all human beings with desires and passions; so, why not call it “human rights”? There’s no denying that women and men are different—not only physically, but also emotionally—and I couldn’t agree more; but when you look at things from a human rights perspective, everyone should have equal rights and opportunities. In an ideal society, everyone is entitled to social and human rights and, most importantly, freedom; unless there are certain religious aspects involved, in which case it wouldn’t entirely be about social rights, but rather following religious instruction.

I’m absolutely certain that given the current circumstances—not just in Iran, but also on a global scale—following religious instruction benefits only a specific bunch. Anyone who blindly follows rules and laws that are inhuman and harmful to others does so because it’s in their best interest, and it has nothing to do with one’s faith or beliefs. We are born free and each one of us has the right to live and choose freely, whether it’s profession, marriage, choice of dress, or even food; but this has to be within the boundaries of respect for other people and their rights.

The challenge comes from our inability to fully understand the concept of freedom and individual rights. For example, I can choose not to wear hijab, but I don’t have the right to disrespect someone who does—the same way I have to respect a fellow Muslim who fasts during the holy month of Ramadan. I can listen to music, but in doing so, I have to make sure that I don’t disturb the people around me. I can drink, but not so much that I can’t control myself and may harm others. I can choose a life partner, but I cannot marry or be with someone else at the same time. We’re not allowed to invade other people’s privacy, whether by marriage, accusation, intrusion, or with lies and jealousy.

If women learn to respect and value each other, and to appreciate being alone, they will realize that they are more than capable to handle life on their own. Women give birth to men, nurture them until they are mature and fully grown, the same men who, later in life, learn to disrespect women, hit them, rape them, and see themselves superior to them. By not knowing our worth, we give our husbands and partners the ultimate power. By thinking less of ourselves, we teach them that they are always the young and handsome one and we are replaceable. By doing so, we allow ourselves to become second wives, mean mothers-in-law, bad sisters-in-law, or simply a jealous friend. We need to join each other, be united in respecting one another, and ask ourselves: “Where are we hoping to achieve with our current attitude?”

On another note, I’ve always wondered: how can someone be okay with her husband marrying another woman at the same time? How can one live with that? It’s true that in the old days, men used to work and provide for their families. Now, however, it’s mostly women who are their households’ main earners; and yet, women still don’t have equal rights as men. Why should that be? First, women must want to respect each other, because until they start valuing themselves and respecting each other’s rights and stop assuming that men are superior, they won’t achieve anything. Some would argue that I only talk about and address women. “What about men who abuse, fathers who are strict, or governments which oppress?” Well, it’s completely and entirely up to us; only we can help ourselves. In nature, only the strong survive.

Photographer: Amalia Freneuil | Hairstylist: Brun Emmanuelle | Makeup Artist: Camille Ghilozzi

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