DelVal's Business and Humanities Colloquium Series Discusses Systematic Violence Against Women in Iran

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Delaware Valley University (DelVal) concluded its Business and Humanities Question It! Change It! Colloquium Series for fall 2022. The Colloquium Series is a forum for students and the broader DelVal community to engage in informed and guided conversations about contemporary problems and issues. Faculty in the School of Business and Humanities presented lectures addressing these current issues from their respective disciplines, facilitating discussion and providing resources to deepen understanding.

The topic for this year's series is "Violence in America." The persistence of mass shootings of schools, shopping malls, places of worship and entertainment venues has long captured public attention if rarely effective policy change, but violence in America runs deeper than these all too often instances of mass bloodshed.

Extending beyond the issues of gun violence, this fall 2022 Colloquium Series concluded with a presentation centered around violence against women, specifically women in Iran as the current turbulence and control over women's bodies continues in the country. The presentation was titled "War on Women: Systematic Violence Against Women in Iran" and was facilitated by DelVal's Chair of the Department of Criminal Justice, Dr. Megan T. Demarest.

Atieh Babakhani, a doctoral candidate and researcher at the University of Delaware, was the featured speaker of this discussion. The presentation shed light on the death of a 22-year-old Iranian woman, Mahsa Amini, who was in police custody after she was arrested by the "morality police" for not wearing the hijab "properly," which sparked unprecedented protests in Iran, led by women.

Iranian women have taken to the streets across the country in outrage over the state-sponsored violence against women and decades of gender inequalities. Iranian women have burned their hijabs and cut their hair in public, demanding their basic rights. The presentation revealed that in Iran, the law does not provide any protection for women who experience violence in their homes and that there is legalized control over women's bodies. Additionally, child marriage and virginity testing are legally permitted in the country.

Overall, this colloquium discussion highlighted how the most recent protests are part of an enduring fight to advance women's rights and equality in Iran.

About the speaker:

Atieh Babakhani is a Ph.D. candidate and researcher in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of Delaware. Her research involves studying the everyday practices of lawyers in Iran and their approaches to gender-based discrimination codified in family law. Ms. Babakhani has also investigated the role of the state in controlling women's bodies, the co-option of women's rights rhetoric by the state, and the experiences of the survivors of domestic violence in Iran's criminal courts and police departments. She formerly practiced law in Iran, where she defended women in family-related disputes, including divorce, domestic violence, and custody matters.