Iran has passed a controversial new “Hijab and Chastity” law against the backdrop of an ongoing, brutal crackdown on widespread dissent over women’s rights in the country. In a further attempt to quash mass protests, the Islamic Republic now threatens women who dare to reveal bare skin in public with 10 years behind bars.
“With this law, nudity and semi-nudity will soon fade in the society and, in less than three years, the problem of not wearing a hijab will be solved,” Tehran representative, Zohresadat Lajordi, said.
September marks one year since mass protests erupted in Iran over the death in custody of young Kurdish-Iranian woman Jina Mahsa Amini, allegedly beaten under detention for not wearing her headscarf properly. The new law, to be implemented for an initial three year “trial” period, aims to stifle individuals who defy or criticise the strict compulsory dress code, outlining a wide range of punishments and penalties.
Human Rights Watch warned that the 70-article chastity bill includes extended prison sentences for repeated offenders, the threat of dismissal from employment and education, and even punishes the voicing of dissent on social media. The watchdog reiterated that the Islamic republic is using the bill as a direct fear tactic to quash the revival of uprisings on the anniversary of Amini’s death.
The law comes as part of a wider policy marked by pre-emptive actions ahead of the anniversary last week. Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps were strategically stationed in various cities from the early hours of Saturday in anticipation. The security presence, including riot control, military and special agents, was particularly heavy in Kurdish-majority regions in western Iran (Rojhilat) and in major cities across the country.