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Savera UK statement following death of Mahsa Amini

Savera UK, a charity that advocates for and supports those at risk of ‘honour’-based abuse and other harmful practices, has released a statement following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.

Mahsa was Kurdish woman from Saqez who was arrested while visiting Tehran, Iran, for reportedly violating a law requiring women to cover their hair with a hijab and their arms and legs with loose clothing.

She collapsed after being taken to a detention centre and died on Friday, 16th September. Witnesses report seeing Mahsa being beaten with a baton, however police deny mistreatment and said she suffered “sudden heart failure”.

Mahsa’s death sparked outcry across the country and in the following days videos of people removing their hijabs and cutting their hair as an act of defiance were shared. Protests in Iran have since resulted in 41 deaths officially reported, although human rights groups claim the true death toll to be much higher.

Savera UK Founder and CEO, Afrah Qassim, said: “Everyone, regardless of age, culture, sexuality or gender should be free to exercise their basic human rights. Savera UK stands with those in Iran who are currently fighting to secure these rights in the wake of Mahsa’s death.

“The reports of violent treatment against women by the morality police amid the enforcement of hijab rules is something we as an organisation condemn, along with the reported disproportionate use of force towards protesters.

“Culturally-specific harmful practices are rooted in societies based on patriarchal ideologies and at their heart lies gender inequality. Everyone has the right to bodily autonomy and the decision to wear a hijab is an individual’s own choice, concerning no one else.

“Our thoughts remain with Mahsa’s family and those who have been affected by her death.

“Let us be the generation that ends harmful practices.”

If you, or someone you know, is affected by culturally-specific harmful practices in the UK, you can contact Savera UK’s helpline on 0800 107 0726 on weekdays between 10am and 4pm.