Qom, the seventh largest city in Iran, is currently in the spotlight for disturbing incidents. According to the Iranian deputy health minister, Younes Panahi, some extremist groups have targeted the teenage females of the holy city in an attempt to hinder their education and create permanent obstacles for them. Reports indicate that the latest tactic being used is to release a poisonous gas, which is making the respiratory health of these young girls vulnerable. The girls have reportedly inhaled a tangerine-like smell in schools, which has caused symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, breathlessness and headache. Unfortunately, there have been no arrests made in connection with these incidents, and only a judicial probe has been initiated.
The situation faced by Iranian females is not restricted to Qom alone. Despite being an integral part of society, they are often treated as second-class citizens in the entire country, with most parents marrying their daughters off between the ages of 10 to 14. Shockingly, the law in Iran does not prohibit it, which perpetuates this harmful practice and significantly hinders a girl’s chances of development, education, growth, and employment while also increasing the risk of depression and domestic violence. This regressive attitude towards women’s education and change is detrimental to the overall progress and development of the country.
The situation is made worse by the post-COVID pandemic scenario. With the respiratory system being one of the human’s central problems, the cover shield of vaccinations has been necessary to protect people. However, even with vaccinations, the immune system gets compromised, leading to worse effects of even minor infections and diseases. Due to the already compromised immune systems, hundreds of girls have been sickened since November 2022, with many winding up in hospital beds due to poison consumption.
Additionally, certain Islamic regime groups are targeting female education to stop their attendance at school. This approach is similar to that of the Taliban during 2008 and 2015, and it is suspected that these strategies are believed to have a negative impact on the country’s demographics, growth and overall peace.
The Iranian government’s inattentiveness towards these issues raises important questions about the integrity and commitment to the welfare of their people. Healthcare is a constitutional right, while education is a fundamental right. Therefore, the government’s negligence towards the current situation is unacceptable as no person should be devoid of these rights. The authorities must take swift action to identify and bring to justice those responsible for these acts and must take steps to safeguard the health and education of young girls who are vulnerable to such attacks.