By Naghmeh Mizanian

‘Women’s role not lesser than men’s in Sacred Defense’

September 26, 2017

TEHRAN – Women’s role during the eight-year Sacred Defense, the resistance against Iraq’s invasion (1980-88), was surely not lesser, if not further, than men, Shahnaz Ashkian, a female war veteran, said, quoting Imam Khomeini the late founder of the Islamic Revolution as saying.

“At the age of 15, I attended first aid courses and got my father’s permission to join defendants of the country and along with my father and three of my brothers, I headed toward battle fronts,” Ashkian told in an interview with the Tehran Times on Sunday.

“I decided to join combatants like any other people of my society who made efforts for defending their country and religion,” Ashkian, 51, who is the deputy director of the Foundation for Preservation of Sacred Defense Works and Values, said.

The Islamic Revolution of Iran made her prepared for joining the Sacred Defense. She was a revolutionary and after the victory of the revolution she continued her cultural activities.

Ashkian began to study about the biography of world’s heroes and it made her character heroic.

Since the beginning of the Iraqi-imposed war she joined the first aid and military classes and joined the medics in war fronts of Marivan, western Kordestan Province, for three months where none of family members where with her.

Then she was transferred to a hospital in Susa, southwestern Khuzestan Province, to join Fath-ul Mobin operation. She has joined three other big operations of Ramazan, Moharram and Kheybar.

Her lungs were infected due to many contacts she had with chemically injured soldiers who were being transferred to Ahwaz hospital. After Susa she was transferred to Abadan and Mahshahr, wherever there was a need for medics.

She was married to a commander Morteza Ghorbani, now university professor at Imam Hussain University, after the liberation of Khorramshahr (1982) and she kept on her activities in war zone by the end of the war, 1988.But when their children were born her activities changed and she became busy with raising the children and supporting them at the absence of their father.

When there was no operation, Ashkian was active in training students in war-torn areas, and villages.

“Women were the most important element in the Sacred Defense, she believes. They supported the male members of their families. They worked instead of their husbands, from earning livelihood for the family to supporting children. Girls were supporting their brothers and fathers. Mothers encouraged their sons to join other soldiers”, she said.

Women made special attempts during the Sacred Defense; whatever they were able to do. They prepared foods, packed nuts, even washed the soldiers’ cloths and bedsheets with their own hands. Some old women were busy with needle threading; some others who were unable to do anything donated their gold and jewelries.

About her eight-year presence in borderline fronts she has bitter and sweet memories. The capture of Khorramshahr (1980) was her saddest memory and birth of a baby boy among many war injured in Ahwaz hospital was one of her sweetest memories of war.

Hearing the sound of war operations march and visiting the old friend of war, takes us to the very very close, sad and sweet times. The time that was very difficult but we experienced the supreme feeling of closeness and sacrifice which is not felt at any time, she stated.

Although it was very sad that I lost a brother, one of my brothers lost one of his hands and my other brother, father and me became chemically injures, and every moment we were hearing the news of martyrdom of one of our close friends, it gave us the feeling of great honor that is not describable.

Ashkian is now the mother of three educated children, two daughters and a son and the grandmother of four. Two of them are memorizers of the whole Holy Qoran, she said proudly.

Many books are written about women’s heroic activities during the Sacred Defense but still there exists many unspoken and unwritten words about their generosity, she concluded.


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