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Iranians use new tool to fight surveillance of women: Sanitary pads

Use of products to cover CCTV camera hailed as a statement against women's repression as Mahsa Amini protests continue
Some sanitary pads coverng security cameras are accompanied by the names of Iranian political dissidents (Twitter/@ShukriyaBradost)
Some sanitary pads covering security cameras are accompanied by the names of Iranian political dissidents (Twitter/@ShukriyaBradost)

After security forces opened fire on commuters at a Tehran metro station, Iranians have responded with a new tool to stop authorities from monitoring them and enforcing dress codes on women: sanitary pads.

Several images have emerged on social media showing layered sanitary pads stuck on CCTV cameras in metro stations and trains, obstructing their views. 

Social media users are hailing the move as a statement against the control and surveillance of women, who have been at the forefront of a series of protests that have rocked the country since September, when 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini died while in police custody.

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Amini was arrested in Tehran for allegedly wearing her hijab inappropriately, and her family says she died after being beaten by police.

Next to some of the covered security cameras are written the names of Iranian political dissidents that have been imprisoned or killed during demonstrations.

In one tweet, the name “Hossein Ronaghi” in Persian is written in marker next to one of the pad-clad CCTV cameras.

Ronaghi is a prominent activist who was arrested in September after speaking out against Tehran’s crackdown on the Mahsa Amini protesters. The jailed activist is currently on hunger strike.

Iranians have hailed the use of sanitary products to counter the authorities, seeing it as a fitting statement as protesters call for an end to the hijab law and the so-called "morality police" that impose strict rules on women's clothing. Women’s menstruation cycle is often deemed a taboo topic in Iran. 

Metro crackdown

The Oslo-based Iran Human Rights organisation said on Wednesday that security forces had killed at least 342 people, including 43 children and 26 women, since the Mahsa Amini protests began.

On Wednesday, footage of security officers opening fire on a crowd of people on a subway platform circulated on social media. Online videos, verified by AFP,  showed passengers fleeing towards exits and falling over each other. 

Other videos posted on social media appear to show Iranians protesting along a platform, women burning their head coverings and chanting slogans such as: “You’re amoral! You’re dishonourable! I am the free woman!” and  “Death to the dictator!”

Some videos also show officers beating men and women on the subway platform, as well as in the train carriages. 

Middle East Eye was not able to independently verify the footage. 

On Tuesday, Iranians gathered in major cities, including Tehran, Tabriz, Isfahan and Mashhad, to commemorate the third anniversary of “Bloody November”, when hundreds were killed during demonstrations after a hike in fuel prices

Many workers, including steelworkers in Isfahan, also joined the protests by striking.

The protests on the anniversary of the 2019 crackdown have been the most severe and widespread since the start of mass protests that began on 16 September. 

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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