Iran is preparing to implement a new law that imposes harsher punishments on women who refuse to wear the mandatory Islamic headscarf, known as the hijab. The legislation was passed by Iran’s parliament, the Islamic Consultative Assembly, and will be enforceable for a trial period of three years before expiration. However, the law still needs approval from the Guardian Council, a body of religious and legal experts, before it can be enacted.
The new law introduces several amendments to Tehran’s existing religious dress code, which has been in place since the country’s 1979 revolution. It includes more than 70 articles that define rules and penalties for violators. In addition to the hijab, women will be prohibited from wearing revealing or tight clothing that shows parts of their body below the neck, above the ankles, or above the forearms. Similarly, men will be restricted from wearing clothing that reveals areas below the chest or above the ankles or shoulders.
One of the most significant aspects of the law is the stricter punishment for those involved in organized protests against the dress code. Protesters who work with foreign governments, networks, media, groups, or organizations may face up to ten years of imprisonment. The penalties also extend to business owners who choose to serve women not wearing the headscarf or promote “nudity, lack of chastity, or bad covering.”
The passing of this law comes just days after the anniversary of the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died while in the custody of Iran’s morality police. She was accused of violating the hijab mandate, and her death sparked months of violent protests across Iran. Thousands of individuals were arrested during these protests, and there were casualties among both demonstrators and security forces.
International humanitarian bodies and the United Nations have criticized the religious dress code, with a panel of UN experts describing it as a form of gender apartheid. The experts also expressed concerns about the severe punishments imposed on women and girls for noncompliance. Despite this criticism, the wife of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Jamileh Alamolhoda, defended the dress code in a recent interview, stating that it was crafted out of respect for women and compared it to dress codes in other countries.
It remains to be seen how this new law will be enforced and its impact on women’s rights in Iran. The strict penalties and restrictions impose further limitations on personal freedom, especially for women. The international community will be closely monitoring the situation and advocating for the protection of human rights in Iran.