Iranian women protesting the compulsory headscarf by taking off their hijab in public could be facing up to a decade in jail for ‘inciting prostitution’, police has warned, Daily Mail reports. Authorities in Iran are desperately trying to stem the growing protests across the country against the dress code enforced on women since the Islamic revolution of 1979.
More than 35 women have been arrested in the capital Tehran alone in the past two months, with several reportedly subjected to torture while in custody.
At least two of the arrested protesters, Narges Hosseini and Shaparak Shajarizadeh, are being charged with ‘inciting corruption and prostitution’, Amnesty International reports. Ms Shajarizadeh was arrested last Wednesday and has reportedly been subjected to beatings in prison.
Activists claim she was also ‘injected with an unknown substance by the prison authorities’ upon her arrest. Ms Hosseini was arrested just over a month ago and has since been in custody in unknown conditions. If they are found guilty of inciting corruption and prostitution, they could face up to ten years in prison.
‘This is a deeply retrograde move by the Iranian authorities in their ongoing persecution of women who dare to speak out against compulsory veiling,’ said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.
It places many women at serious and immediate risk of unjust imprisonment while sending a chilling message to others to keep quiet while their rights are being violated.
“In compelling women and girls to cover their hair, the Iranian authorities have violated women’s human rights in Iran for decades and also deeply hurt women’s dignity. Rather than threatening women with jail terms for claiming their human rights, the authorities should immediately abolish the discriminatory, abusive and degrading laws and practices of compulsory veiling.”
Reports and videos are circulating on social media, and last week Maryam Shariatmadari was seen being violently pushed off a concrete structure. She has been seriously injured and requires surgery, but is being held in Shahr-e Rey Prison and is being denied medical attention. The following day, Shariatmadari’s mother – Mitra Jamshidzadeh – was detained for over a day in a detention center in the country’s capital. Her lawyer has advised that she was violently attacked when she tried to find out where her daughter was being held.
According to Iranian law, veiling is compulsory. However, international law states that this is a blatant violation of numerous human rights. It is discriminatory and denies females the right to freedom of expression, thought, conscience, religion and privacy.
A spokesman for Iran’s judiciary said that women who are not properly veiled are being instructed by “organized criminal groups” or are acting under the influence of “synthetic drugs.” Amnesty International is calling for law enforcement officials that are condoning such actions to refrain from making any more statements that incite further human rights abuses.
Furthermore, the NCRI Women’s Committee has called on all international organizations defending human rights and women’s rights to urgently act so that all women who are jailed as a result of improper veiling are immediately freed. The committee has said that the people who are protesting are “honorable and brave” and has urged the people of Iran – in particular women and young people – to defend them and to support their families.
Iranian authorities have said that 29 women have been arrested for not being veiled. This practice is unacceptable and is further proof that regime change, as per the request of the nation, is the only way forward.