The day 15 October is called by the United Nations the International Day of Rural Women. Most civilized nations commemorate this day to honor the hardships of rural women.
Many individuals and groups also seize this opportunity and make it a means of eliminating potential discrimination and solving the problems and realization of the rights of rural women. In Iran, however, the authorities deny rural women their most basic rights.
Rural women – 10 million deprived and poverty-stricken people
According to statistics reported by Iran’s government, 10 million rural women live in Iran. It is no secret that because of the sovereignty and the autocratic laws of Iran, women are considered as second-class citizens, and their most basic rights, such as the right to choose their clothes, occupation, and education are violated completely in a legal and institutional way, but when it comes to rural women it turns out that the situation is getting worse. In addition to Iran’s prevailing laws, geographical and ethnic and regional factors also contribute to this horrific discrimination.
Rural women are often subjected to cruel and inhumane discrimination that is difficult to believe.
In fact, under Iran’s misogynist form of rule, the problems facing these women stem from three factors from the time of birth. They live under the autocratic rules in Iran, they are women and rural too. The unprecedented rise of female suicide in Iran is one of the consequences of such a cruel situation.
Rural women; the astonishing statistics of self-immolation
According to Iran’s officials the number of suicides in Iran, "shows a number about 5 to 7 cases per 1,000 people." (Iran Online, 25 August 2018) According to Zahra Hazrati, a government sociologist, "Iran ranks first in self-immolation statistics in the Middle East.” (Khabar Fori 28 December 2017). This is one of the most common methods of suicide that a victim chooses to show the depth of his or her suffering and despair. The number of self-immolations in Dishmuk, a city in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer Ahmad Province, is a striking example of its kind that illustrates the depth of oppression and discrimination in Iran. According to media reports: "More than 11 cases of female self-immolation occurred in Dishmuk and surrounding villages in the first six months of 2019."
Rural women; absolute and cruel exploitation
To say that women in the countryside do not even enjoy the minimum human rights is an understatement.
A government scholar confessing to some of this horrendous and inhumane exploitation wrote: "More than 70% of livestock and poultry activities, about 40% of agriculture and horticulture activity, and 80% of traditional crop processing are carried out by rural and nomadic women. Rural women do not only contribute to the development of rural families and the local economy but also contribute to the national economy because of the role played by agricultural and livestock trading chains. ”(Hamdeli, 7 October 2019)
The state media does not say anything about the gruesome and autocratic laws of Iran over rural women. They blame male villagers for being the main culprit, even though the men also live in poverty and misery.
Beyond all this, violence against rural women has also become casual. They are vulnerable to violence because of the lack of law and governmental support, and poverty and cultural backwardness in villages. Confronting this violence can sometimes cost them their lives. In the face of such overwhelming pressures, many rural women have no other choice than suicide and end their lives by their own hands.
Women and girls, who do not have the slightest rights, choose the most difficult form of suicide, self-immolation, in order to make their own silent voice as loud as possible.