Iran Daily: HRW — End Detentions of Women Protesting Hijab

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A woman waves her hijab near a police car in Tehran, Iran, January 2018

Human Rights Watch has called on Iran’s regime to drop charges against women arrested over recent demonstrations about compulsory hijab.

HRW’s Sarah Leah Whitson said in Saturday’s report:

For decades Iranian authorities have imposed a compulsory dress code on women violating their basic freedom to express themselves and restricting access to economic and social opportunities for anyone who refuses.

Now when women are peacefully protesting a discriminatory dress code, authorities are adding to their misdeeds by arresting them.

Security forces have seized dozens of women after the first demonstration, by 31-year-old mother Vida Movahed, on December 27. She was filmed climbing atop an electricaljunction box on one of the capital’s busiest thoroughfares, Enqelab (Revolution) Avenue, as she waved her white jihab on the end of a stick.

Movahed was arrested, as was a second woman who carried out a similar demonstration. But the detentions only fuelled further appearances by women — and some supportive men — waving the compulsory head covering.

On Wednesday, Shaparak Shajarizadeh was arrested in north Tehran. Family members told reporters that she has been beaten up in custody, before she was released on bail to stand trial yesterday.

On Thursday, police were filmed pushing Maryam Shariatmadari from a junction box. Reports say she is in prison with a broken leg.

And on Friday, Iranian police warned that “although the sentence for not wearing hijab is a two-month imprisonment, anyone encouraging others to take off their hijab would be jailed for 10 years”.

But prominent sociologist Fatemeh Sadeqi defied the threat, in a speech at Tehran’s Humanities Research Center, “No one can ignore these women any longer. Wherever there is a debate about women’s demands, it is also about the Girls of Revolution Street.”

“For decades Iranian authorities have imposed a compulsory dress code on women violating their basic freedom to express themselves and restricting access to economic and social opportunities for anyone who refuses,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Now when women are peacefully protesting a discriminatory dress code, authorities are adding to their misdeeds by arresting them.”

The statement by HRW was made on February 24, one day after Iranian police threatened that Fars News Agency reported.

The statement is based on the police’s interpretation of article 639 of the Iranian penal code, which calls for one to 10 years of imprisonment for those convicted of “opening brothels” and “encouraging people to engage in prostitution.”

Iranians on social media angrily reacted to the statement released by the Police. Ali Mojtahedzadeh, an Iranian lawyer, wrote on his Twitter page: “The statement by the police has no legal value. The police are not in a position to interpret the law. They can simply enforce verdicts issued by judiciary authorities.”

Several Iranian women have been arrested during recent weeks for taking off their headscarf in public and protesting the compulsory hijab while standing on electric utility boxes.

Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) put the number of women arrested for protesting the hijab at 21 as of February 1.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. “For decades Iranian authorities have imposed a compulsory dress code on women violating their basic freedom to express themselves and restricting access to economic and social opportunities for anyone who refuses.”

    Many organisations in the West insist upon a “dress code” for both men and women in the workplace that requires them to dress smartly and modestly. People can be dismissed for failing to abide by this, and can’t take their complaint to an industrial tribunal. Many countries also have laws against “indecent exposure” and “public lewdness”, requiring both sexes to cover up outside of their homes. In the states of Indiana and Tennessee in the US, men are not allowed to “become visibly aroused” in public (not sure about Alabama) even if they are properly clothed (no such rule exists in Iran). All of these laws can be regarded as “violating freedom of expression”……but no sensible person would make it into a human rights issue which it is clearly not.

    Also, none of the “hejab refusniks” in Iran will be denied social security, housing assistance or subsidies. Unless actually convicted, they will be free to apply for jobs and university places sinced they won’t have a criminal record.

  2. “On Thursday, police were filmed pushing Maryam Shariatmadari from a junction box. Reports say she is in prison with a broken leg.”

    There is absolutely no way anyone could have broken their leg from such a small fall due to a light push. These “reports” are just made up nonsense.

    • How do you know they did not break her leg in prison ? How can you assure anyone that she is being treated fairly by “officials” who are known to break bones, rape and do much worse to prisoners in their custody ?

  3. No rise in espionage cases: Ejei: https://en.mehrnews.com/news/132419/No-rise-in-espionage-cases-judiciary-official

    “The office of Tehran prosecutor General has announced that more than 70 convicts of espionage charges are held in prisons of Tehran.”

    Previously, the head of Iran’s Supreme Court, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, had announced that some spies are using NGOs as cover for espionage: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961130001630

    Iranian authorities suspect that the CIA, Mossad, MI6/SIS and the BND (Germany) are all actively recruiting Iranians for use as spies. http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961130001630

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