Tougher hijab requirements in focus after 22-year-old’s death

Tougher hijab requirements in focus after 22 year olds death

Published: Just now

fullscreen Iranians in exile demonstrate against the regime outside Iran’s embassy in Berlin, Germany. Photo: Michael Sohn/AP/TT

New protests have erupted in streets across Iran. This time since a young woman died after being arrested for not wearing the obligatory veil correctly.

But few things point to a change in the regime’s women’s laws – according to an official document, the veil requirements have even become even stricter recently.

In the mass protests that have broken out in Iran in recent years, the igniting spark has been everyday problems such as shockingly high bread prices, drought and water shortages or expensive gasoline.

This time, protesters have come out in memory of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died on Friday after being arrested for not covering her hair sufficiently according to the so-called morality police, who check that the population complies with the oppressive laws imposed by the regime after the Islamic the 1979 revolution.

The police claim she died of a heart attack – but the family say she was in good health and believe she must have been beaten to death during the arrest.

According to unconfirmed reports from Kurdish human rights organizations, several protesters have been killed by security forces in the province of Kurdistan.

Criticized for a long time

In addition to street protests, which have drawn thousands even as police have responded with arrests, tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets, social media in Iran has been awash with a hashtag bearing her name.

Among tribute photos and texts dedicated to Amini, women also post videos of themselves cutting their hair.

The forced hijab, which has long been criticized by large sections of the Iranian population, was in focus even before Mahsa Amini’s death.

In early September, hundreds of people were arrested demonstrating against the compulsory veil, which has been re-emerged after Iran’s morality authority published in August a 118-page document about the state’s new veil policy introduced last winter.

The document states that the majority of Iranian women do not support the hijab requirement.

Three possible future scenarios are therefore presented by the morality authority. The first is that the hijab compulsion is abolished and women are allowed to choose their own outfits. This is considered the worst-case scenario, which, according to the report, would cause a collapse of Islamic values, more divorces and more sexual crimes.

Cameras and students

The other proposal is to let things continue as they are today, with hijab enforcement not quite as strict as it was in the years immediately following the revolution. However, this is assumed to lead to “religious frustration” and greater Western influence and is therefore not advocated either.

According to the document, the optimal solution lies in what is known as the “hijab and chastity project”, which is established as the state’s new action plan. According to the plan, among other things, surveillance cameras and theology students are to be placed around the public space to monitor women.

Those who don’t follow the state’s harsh orders or criticize the headscarf must be imprisoned, fined or sent to “counseling” – what the morality police said Mahsa Amini would receive before she died.


Harsh laws against women

After the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979, very strict rules of living were introduced.

Many of them are aimed directly at women, who are not allowed to show their hair and are forced to wear loose clothing on the rest of their bodies. They are also not allowed to travel abroad without permission from their spouse.

Women have even been sentenced to prison and flogging for dancing, and are also banned from taking part in, for example, sporting events.

Read more