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Source: RFE/RL

Mar 25, 2024

Iran Mulls Financial Penalties For Hijab Rule Violations

An Iranian lawmaker says authorities are discussing introducing financial penalties for the violation of the mandatory hijab rule as a way to depart from physical coercion or criminal action against perceived perpetrators amid growing discontent among Iranians following a wave of repression against protests prompted by the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody in 2022.

Amirhossein Bankipour told state TV on March 24 that a consensus on such a step had been reached among key governmental and security bodies.

Bakinpour said the move comes after assessments found that morality police patrols and criminal proceedings have not proven effective and triggered protests.

The ruling bodies, including the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution and the Supreme National Security Council, have found fines a less confrontational means of enforcing the dress code, he said.

Bankipour last month hinted at a forthcoming bill dubbed Hijab and Chastity that would fine violators 30 million Iranian rials ($50), directly debiting the fines from their bank accounts, with additional penalties for repeat offenses.

However, a police spokesman said no official notification has been received about the fines so far.

The envisaged legislation empowers three intelligence agencies -- the Intelligence Ministry, the Revolutionary Guards Intelligence Organization, and the Intelligence Organization of the Judiciary -- along with the police and the Basij paramilitary forces to take action against women who break the rules.

The hijab became compulsory for women and girls above the age of 9 in 1981, two years after the Islamic Revolution. The move triggered protests that were swiftly crushed by the new authorities. Many women have flouted the rule over the years and pushed the boundaries of what officials say is acceptable clothing.

Amini's death in September 2022 following her arrest over allegedly wearing the hijab improperly sparked a wave of anger that has presented the Islamic regime with one of the biggest challenges since the 1979 revolution.

The Women, Life, Freedom protests and civil disobedience against the compulsory hijab that have swept the country involved tens of thousands of Iranians, many of whom were already upset over the country's deteriorating living standards.

Campaigns were also launched against the discriminatory law.In the face of the unrest, some religious and government figures have repeatedly advocated for a tougher stance by the government against offenders, even going as far as encouraging a "fire-at-will" approach against noncompliant women.

The UN Human Rights Council's fact-finding committee has categorized such actions against women as a crime against humanity.

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