Economy

Iranian women take off hijabs in public to protest law

Iranian women take off hijabs in public to protest law

On December 27, a woman later identified as 31-year-old Via Movahed became an global sensation after she stood atop a telecoms box in Tehran's Enghelab Street.

Images of her one-woman protest December 27 flooded social media, where she has been lauded as a courageous defender of women's rights.

Movahed's identity was initially a mystery until Iran's most prominent human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, established she had been arrested. Thousands of people, including men, have changed their profile pictures in support of Movahed. This woman stood atop a utility box for 10 minutes before officers arrested her, the Guardian learned. It's notable that whilst Movahedi and other have been arrested other women have been left alone.

Breaking the rules can result in fines of up to 500,000 rials (£17) and up to two months in prison. I am happy with my choice but I am opposed to forced hijab and that's why I appreciate the Girls of Enghelab Street.

Iran's chief prosecutor has played down recent protests by women removing their headscarves in public, saying they were "trivial" and "childish" moves possibly incited by foreigners.

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"I don't think women can tolerate the pressure [over the hijab] for a long time", Sotoudeh, who has been jailed in Iran for her defense of human rights, told RFE/RL by telephone from Tehran.

The law mandating the hijab has been, and a head scarf is obligatory for every woman in the country, even tourists and visiting foreign dignitaries.

In one photo posted online by a social-media activist known as Vahid Online on January 30, two young women with short hair can be seen standing together on concrete posts in Tehran while holding up scarves on sticks.

Video of the Girl of Revolution Street's protest went viral, and more women were emboldened to express their dissatisfaction with compulsory hijab in similar protests. "Since then, we've seen other acts of protests against the imposition of the dress code", Ebadi told RFE/RL in a reference to broad expressions of concern almost four decades ago.

"Iran's ", an official arm of the state's police force that primarily focuses on women's dress codes, has intensified over the last few weeks.


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