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Letter of HaftTapeh Women

Paintings by Nane Hassan (Monavar Ramezani)

Tanide’s introduction: The workers of Haft Tapeh Sugarcane Agro-Industry Company are among a group of workers in the south of Iran who have held many demonstrations, marches, and strikes in protest against privatization and their unjust working and economic conditions. In all these years, the voices of working women in Haft Tapeh have been heard less, but at the beginning of the Jina uprising, Haft Tapeh women published a statement protesting against their chaotic economic, social, and political situation. In a simple, and eloquent language, they presented the policies of the Islamic Republic regime in the direction of suppressing workers, especially women workers, and demanded to change and disrupt the regulation of this regime. We hope that these working women’s brilliant statements and significant activities will continue. 

You can read their statement below:

​Greetings to female and male colleagues in HaftTapeh [sugarcane factory] and all the families in HaftTapeh and Shush and other cities of Khuzestan [province] and throughout the country. We wanted to break the silence, say a few words, and make a request. In Iran, from childhood, [the Islamic Republic of Iran] imposed gender conflicts on us, segregated schools, and did not let us look at social individuals as human beings; rather, we should have looked at them as the opposite sex, from whom we should be kept away.

​We started to have a mandatory hijab from the age of nine. They gave us programs like robots and we were forced to act on them. They took freedom from women and girls to remove their [social] awareness and their ability to raise enlightened children for society. At the workplace, we must stay away from our colleagues and they should stay away from us. They enforce our separation, occasionally restricting us from working: “That place is unsuitable for your work”. They have alienated colleagues from other colleagues.

​Why should I stare at my colleague with sexual intent? Why should my colleague look at me sexually? We are all human. Every person makes decisions about whom they want to live with or build relationships with. We do not need anybody to decide for us. We can protect ourselves and do not need them to “protect” and restrict us by their laws, norms, orders, and beliefs.

We can live and work together in the most humane ways without these laws and beliefs. You made society sick with your approach. If you have a sick and misogynistic approach to everyone, that is your problem. Go to another place and cure yourself, or at least do not dare to think that you can guide us to the correct pathway of life.

​As female workers, every day we understand more than yesterday what oppressions are forced upon us. We ask male colleagues who protest, those who have a humane perspective and want a humane society to be created for themselves, their sisters and mothers, wives and children —in which they all live in a humane, moral, healthy, and free manner — to support this nationwide movement for the human, social, and political rights that have been lost, as well as to fight all the poverty and misery and economic deprivation and exploitation that have been imposed on us. Let’s not be like potatoes and do something.

​How well did our dear fellow citizen, the Arab lioness in the video, say that these protests are not against hijab — they are against mandatory actions? They are against the mandatory removal of hijab from someone’s head and the mandatory hijab on someone else’s head. Don’t you have any problem with this oppression, the cruelty and calamities that happen to the people of Khuzestan, both men and women? I’m sure you have a problem.

​Published by HaftTapeh Workers Independent Channel.

Translated into English by Tanide