April 14, 2024 Faith Matters

Iran clamps down again on headscarf offences

Iran is again taking tougher action against violations by women of strict Islamic dress codes, with the start on Saturday of a new drive on observance of the regulations in the Gulf state.

Controls were tightened nationwide and women disregarding the requirement to wear a headscarf in public remain guilty of a criminal offence, the Iranian news agency Tasnim reported on Telegram, citing a police commander.

Since the mass protests led by women in the autumn of 2022, Iran’s notorious morality police have been less strict, partly because they experienced more resistance from the population.

Instead, security agencies stepped up video surveillance of offences. For example, cars belonging to women who were repeatedly caught driving without a headscarf were impounded.

Authorities also tracked offences online, including photos of women without headscarves posted on Instagram. Shops and restaurants whose customers disregarded the dress code were ordered to close.

Since 2022, more and more Iranian women have been ignoring the dress code, while religious hardliners have tried to fight the growing defiance.

A new bill passed by parliament provides for draconian punishments but has not yet come into force.

In the coming weeks, a revised version is to be resubmitted to Iran’s so-called Guardian Council, an arch-conservative, 12-member supervisory body.

The mass protests were triggered by the death of the young Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini after her arrest by police because of an allegedly ill-fitting headscarf.

An expert United Nations commission concluded that physical violence after the arrest led to her death.