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New Bill Increases Penalties for Inappropriate Dress of Iranian Women

Iran’s parliament passed a bill on Wednesday that would increase penalties for women who do not comply with Islamic dress code. Under Iranian law, based on the country’s interpretation of Sharia, women and girls above the age of puberty are required to cover their hair with a hijab and wear long, loose fitting clothing to hide their figures.


The “Hijab and Chastity Bill” states that those who are caught dress “inappropriately” in public spaces are subject to a “fourth degree punishment” of 10 years in prison and a fine between 180m and 360m rials. The bill makes refusing to wear a hijab equivalent to nudity, and was made to enforce the dress code.


“Any person who appears naked or semi-naked in public, in public places or on roads, or appears in a way that is traditionally considered naked will be immediately arrested,” states article 50 of the new law, but it is unclear what is considered inappropriate


The current state of the law states that those who do not comply are subject to between 10 days and two months of imprisonment or a fine of 5,000-500,000 rials. The bill was passed 152 to 34 with seven abstentions, according to The Iran Primer


The bill is in the process of being approved by the Guardian Council, a conservative body of clerics and jurists, to become a law. The council consists of 12 men and is led by Ahmad Jannati, 97, who has been chair since 1988. 


Since the Islamic Republic made wearing a hijab mandatory since 1981, it has become an issue ever since. 


The bill was passed days after the one year anniversary of the murder of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini who was killed in police detention for improperly wearing a hijab last September. Amini’s death caused a three month long protest that resulted in the deaths of more than 500 people by security forces. Women burned their headscarves or waved them in the air in protest against the clerical establishment. 


In April of this year, surveillance cameras were set up in public places to crack down on  unveiled women. In July, morality police began patrolling once again across the country after keeping low profiles for several months.


In the beginning of September, eight independent United Nations human rights experts warned that the bill could be a form of gender apartheid since authorities are operating through “systemic discrimination with the intention of suppressing women and girls into total submission” according to BBC.  


The United Nations Human Rights office has called on authorities to abolish the procedures where women’s behavior is monitored in public and to, “introduce laws and policies that enable women and girls to exercise their human rights, including their right to fully participate in public life, without fear of retribution and discrimination.” 


Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, wrote in a letter that women and girls should not be treated as second class citizens and “authorities have a duty to respect, protect and fulfill- equally- the right of all Iranians.” 


If the bill is put into effect it will be enacted for a three year trial period, according to CNN

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Tags: #Iran #MiddleEast #HijabandChastityBill


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