Tahirih’s Role in Women’s Emancipation
In the early part of the 20th Century, Charlotte Despard, an important English women’s rights advocate who served the poor in Dublin, wrote several substantial pieces on Tahirih.
Despard was the editor of a weekly newspaper in England, The Vote, which had as its mission statement:
To secure for Women the Parliamentary vote as it is or may be granted to men; to use the power thus obtained to establish equality of rights and opportunities between the sexes, and to promote the social and industrial well-being of the community. – Charlotte Despard, “An Eastern Prophet’s Message,” The Vote, Volume VII, number 168 (January 10, 1913), p. 181.
In three subsequent editions of The Vote during September and October of 1911, she wrote a serialized biographical account of Tahirih. In her account, entitled, “A Woman Apostle in Persia,” she re-imagined Tahirih as a rebel against the religious subjugation of women. Despard imagined Tahirih as saying:
“I have always rebelled,” so her thoughts ran. “I have felt it was an ill thing to be a woman, and worse to rail against the decree of Allah in making woman subject. And I have fought against my free mind as evil in a woman.” – Ibid., Volume IV, number 101 (September 30, 1911), pp. 280-281.