Defiant Iranian women doff mandated head scarves
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
3/10/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
More and more Iranian women are doing away with their national dress code, and more are being seen without their mandated head coverings, hijabs. The campaign group Justice for Iran, or JFI says nearly half a million other girls and women have been warned by special police patrols. More are denouncing this as "a systematic and widespread human rights abuse." There are numerous accounts of girls and women who have been harassed, arrested or beaten for daring to go without.
More and more Iranian women are doing away with their national dress code, and more are being seen without their mandated head coverings, hijabs.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Activists say that hijab laws violate numerous international treaties as well as Iran's own constitution. Two notable examples are when Iranian film actress Marzieh Vafamehr appeared with her head uncovered in "My Tehran for Sale," an Australian film critical of her home country. She was sentenced to three months in jail and a hefty fine.
In addition, lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was forbidden from flying to Italy to receive a human rights prize. She sent a video-taped acceptance speech -- and was summarily fined for not wearing a hijab in the recording.
More than 30,000 women and girls have been arrested over the last decade for violating the law. Some detainees were as young as 12 years old -- and in fact many of those detained are under 18. In a new report, police statistics from 2010 show almost 47 percent of those arrested for hijab violations were aged between 16 and 20.
Human rights lawyer Shadi Sadr, co-author of the report says that the number of girls and women who disobey the law shows the strong resistance to forced hijab, especially among the younger generation.
"Iran spends millions of dollars a year in enforcing these laws. It's a serious and ongoing battle between the authorities and women," Sadr says, who lives in exile in London.
"I know a lot of women who have been arrested for hijab. They have left Iran because they feel they cannot tolerate this any more."
Iran was the first country to demand all women to observe hijab. Those who violate the law can face punishments including up to 70 lashes, prison terms and fines.
Lashings are less common now than in the first two decades after the 1979 Islamic revolution - but girls and women continue to suffer physical abuse.
The dress code impacts girls and women in many other ways. Those who have flouted the rules have been expelled from school and university and many have been fired from their jobs. Students are also marked down, refused their marks or excluded from exams for failing to observe dress codes.
In Sharia law, hijab is defined as covering the hair and the body, except for wrists and hands. In Iran, officials may deem certain choices of clothing color, tighter outfits, make-up, trousers that are slightly too short, thick black tights and even boots as violations.
Iranian hijab laws apply for all girls older than seven whereas Sharia exempts girls under nine and older women.
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