Tahirih: Babi and Women's Right's Martyr
How a 19th century Persian Poetess affected the Women's Suffrage Movement
| Mid-nineteenth century Persia saw the birth and quick stem of the new and
controversial Faith. Its followers were called Babis and eventually,
Baha'is. Up until that time in the world's history, women were seen as less than second class citizens.
They could not own land, could not vote or excersise most any of the rights that men
of the time (and we now)would take for granted. Now, after centuries of silence,
women have found their voices and are themselves becoming vehicles for the changes
and advancements of the world. It is quite a wonder to discover that the first
Women's Rights Martyr was not even a westerner. She was from Persia (now Iran), a
country still known for its oppression of women. Her name was Tahirih (The Pure
One) or Quarratu'l-Ayn. She was one of the first followers of the Bab and her crime
was simply showing her beautiful face.
A woman appearing unveiled, especially in context of the time and country in which she lived, was perceived as a sign of promiscuity and a grave transgression against the clegry and even God Himself.
The moment Tahirih unveiled herself in Badasht, became the first act of public unveiling in Iranian history and the first agressive movement against the oppression of women everywhere.
She was captured in 1852, along with other Babis, imprisioned and eventually executed that year. Dressed in white silk, she had prepared for her death with fasting and prayers. She was strangled with a silk handkerchief and then thrown into a well, later filled with stones and dirt.
With her voice proclaiming a new day in which women and men would be equal she once said: "You can kill me as soon as you like, but you cannot stop the emancipation of women."
From "Tahirih the Pure" by Martha Root