Bittersweet & Blue - The Appalling Tale Of Sahar Khodayari
The death of Sahar Khodayari, aged 29, as a final act of defiance against the oppression of women in her home country of Iran, is a world-changing act.
She poured petrol on herself & set herself on fire, outside of a Tehran courtroom last week, after learning that she was facing up to 6 months in jail for simply attending a football match.
Women are banned from attending football matches in Iran, so Sahar would go dressed as a man. She was arrested after attempting to enter a stadium, in March.
Dubbed Blue Girl on social media after the colours of her favourite team - Esteghlal, she has become an icon for freedom.
Reformist lawmaker, Parvaneh Salahshouri, has attacked the Patriarchal systems which allow this form of oppression flourish:
Where men are assigned to women and deprived of their most basic human rights, and women who accompany men in this blatant cruelty, we are all responsible for locking up and burning the witches of this land.
Journalist Akbar Montajabi wrote on Twitter:
The girl who wants to cheer up the stadium and her favorite team is not mentally ill. Not sick. Full of joy, energy and energy. Full of emotion. Her suicide, burning and dying represent our sick community.
And frankly, it is difficult to disagree with either of their assessments on this horrifying tragedy.
There is no world in which anyone should go to jail for attending a game of football.
There is no world in which a society should oppress women to the extent that they would rather kill themselves than face another day living in it.
There is no world in which Sahar Khodayari should set herself on fire because women are not allowed to attend football.
Iran needs to change. The world needs to change.
It is not sinful for women to watch men play football. It is not sinful for anyone to watch football really.
Football is a universal game. It should be enjoyed universally.
The next time you read a comment along the lines of ‘get back in the kitchen,’ please point out that attitudes like that are life & death matters in some countries.
And we need to be better.
We all need to be better.
Because if we don’t, there will be more women dying in vain.
Simply for trying to watch a game of football.
Words by J.S. Leatherbarrow. Original photograph courtesy of Twitter. Artwork by FATC staff. All rights reserved.