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The Ekbatan Tehran Girls

In the digital age the internet can be used for entertainment, education and learning, for sourcing new artists, connecting with others and many other reasons, it has created endless possibilities for us. There is also the opportunity for widespread awareness and protest. TikTok is constantly being debated in mainstream media and news outlets for all the wrong reasons. While there is of course the question of safety and appropriate content for younger generations often the debate of the app has been used to create hysteria and unease where it does not need to be utilised. The app allows younger generations to access content, news and information they previously had no knowledge of. Currently the USA is debating whether or not to ban the app. The Australian government is contesting its use on government devices. We have to wonder why all this controversy and outrage has sparked yet another debate surrounding a social media app. While of course there are always safety concerns regarding social media apps, the modern world is constantly creating new apps that help spread new knowledge and connect us with another. It brings us to the question of why they want to remove this app? This will be discussed in further detail in another post but for now we will discuss the Ektban/Tehran girls.

I personally gain new knowledge constantly from the app and further my own research in other areas, we can not always take everything we see on the internet for face value. But it serves as a great prompt for us. However the resourcefulness of these apps needs to be discussed. In an age where we cannot ignore the internet and social media it is interesting to see governments across the world wishing to see these apps be brought down. In America for example, they have freedom of speech which can lead to further controversy surrounding what is appropriate to post or share. In Australia we do not have freedom of speech which many seem to forget. This however is an advantage as it prohibits hate speech, discrimination and threats. However the enforcement of this is contested, this is another conversation in itself entirely.

Currently on TikTok, there is a trending and viral sound, conversation and videos surrounding the Ekbatan Tehran Girls. When trying to research this on my own very little came up, it is not something discussed in mainstream media.

To give backstory and understanding I will share what I have learnt from others and found in my own research.

First we need to understand where this discussion began, of course it is hard to summarise an entire country's political protests, policy and debates. I will begin by sharing the story of Mahsa Amini also known as Jina Amini. Mahsa was a 22 year old Iranian woman. Mahsa was visiting Tehran to see her brother and on September 13th 2022 she was arrested by the Guidance Patrol at an expressway in Tehran in the company of her family. She was arrested due to "allegedly wearing a headscarf improperly". She was then transferred over to the morality police. On 16th of September she was pronounced dead. While the government officials released that her death was related to health issues it did not sit right with many citizens in Iran and sparked a national outrage, that was also minimally spread globally however not discussed to the potential it could have been in this digital age.

On March 8th, coinciding with International Womens Day, five girls uploaded a video of them dancing to Remi & Selena Gomez's song "calm down". In the video the women are not wearing mandatory headscarves. Now this may not sound like much to you and I however what they did was classified as an act of defiance. Not only where they videoed without mandatory headscarves but they were dancing in public, another illegal activity for women in Iran. Since the death of Mahsa Amini in September, a growing number of women and girls have been demonstratively ignoring the codes imposed by the Islamic Republic.

In January an Iranian court sentenced two bloggers to a total of 21 years in prison for posting a video of themselves dancing in Tehran's central Azadi Square. These videos seem like an everyday occurrence to us, but for these Iranians it has cost them a lot, potentially even their lives.

The day after the Ekbatan girls posted their dancing video local police were already on the hunt for them. They searched CCTV footage of the building in the background of their video, Block 13, and were even questioning the guards of that area.

The original account which posted the video was deactivated.

The video has gone viral on the internet for their brave act of defiance. Since these women-led protests began in September, more than 520 people have been killed. Over 19,000 people have been detained.

Since they posted that video, less than a week later an apology video was posted by four women, with their heads fully covered each one of them stepping forward to express their regret. It was filmed in an area appearing similar to the original video, however no details of the area or the women could be verified. The whereabouts and safety of the women has not been updated nor made clear. This video and concurring events have caused further uproar and protest. Yet again however, little has been mentioned in Mainstream media. I had to search deep and specifically on google to find any information let alone any updates. Sadly there has been minimal updates and the wellbeing of the five women remains unanswered. In response to this the song has gone viral on TikTok globally. Many posting themselves doing the same dance as an act of solidarity and awareness. For now the question remains of their safety, these five women showcasing the current conditions in Iran in regards to human rights specifically women's rights.

I Will link the original video below. Please keep the conversation alive and talk about the Ekbatan Girls.

Mahsa Amini's image is pictured above held by protestors


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