Iranian-Canadian therapist weighs in on women’s rights, cultural values and empowermentBrowse all therapists
In light of the women’s protests in Iran after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, we reached out to one of our therapists who grew up in Iran.
Here is our QnA with one of our partner therapists. Contributor chose to stay anonymous.
1. Do you have a personal connection to what’s happening?
I remember as a child in Iran, I questioned some of the things I had to do or ways that I had to behave in public. These questions, and dealing with the consequences of forgetting to sometimes adhere to certain conformities, grew larger as I got older and returned to visits. I will never forget the time when at 11 years old on a visit, I went to the bazaar with some family and as I stood by a store display, I leaned my weight on one hip and rested my hand on it because I felt some pain in my back. Within moments I was approached by an individual and scolded about my "improper" posture. I have definitely learned not to take the freedom to express myself for granted.
2. Why are women so angry this time?
For Iranian women, this situation is something that has been prevalent for decades. Mahsa Amini's story hits close to home because almost all of us either have a story similar to hers, or know of someone who does, and some are lucky enough to not have it end as tragically as hers. Many people have their own theories as to why it is for sure this time. One theory that I heard which is very fascinating to me is that this new generation of women are fearless - their own parents and grandparents were exhausted and fearful after the 1979 Revolution, however these young women are ready to fight for a freedom to choose. I think this is angering women across the world because over a short period of time, we have witnessed significant setbacks in the rights and freedoms of choice for ourselves and our bodies in recent years.
3. Especially for young women who are immigrants or children of immigrants in Canada: how do you work with them to navigate different expectations on women?
I believe that psychoeducation, values exploration, healthy boundary setting and assertive communication is key. Every culture brings its own set of unique values, so it's important to understand that client's cultural values and where they stand, and help them navigate through it. I think it's important to empower a client in a way that they are able to make the best choices for themselves while navigating those expectations.
4. What is the impact of this recent movement on women's mental health in general?
Watching what these brave women and men are doing in Iran right now is gut wrenching and inspiring, and an incredible move in feminism and human rights. That being said, there is a lot of graphic footage - which in a way, is necessary to share to give Iranians a voice and to show the world what they have been subject to over several decades. With these images and videos, it can resurface trauma and other difficult emotions and daily experiences. It's important to practice self care: limit social media and news exposure, find solace in safe social interactions, get proper sleep and exercise, cuddle your furry friends, volunteer, and speak to a professional.
5. Final thoughts…
No matter what degree this situation may be impacting you, remember to practice self-compassion, self-care, and kindness and understanding to those around you.