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Source: The Telegraph

Sep 20, 2023

Iranian women face 10 years in prison for not wearing hijab

New law approved in Iran, which will be enforced for three years, increases penalties for flouting Islamic dress code

By James Rothwell

Iran has passed a draconian new law that will jail women who refuse to wear the hijab for up to 10 years, in what the UN has labelled “gender apartheid”.

Lawmakers in Iran, where the hijab is mandatory for women, approved on Wednesday the “Support for the Culture of Hijab and Chastity” legislation, which seeks to increase penalties for flouting Islamic dress codes.

Iranian lawyers opposed to the new rule say that the 10-year prison sentence is not far off those handed down for the crimes of drug trafficking and, in some cases, murder.

The previous maximum penalty for refusing a hijab was two months’ imprisonment. The maximum fine for the same offence is being raised from roughly £1 to £2,500 under the new law.

The law was passed just days after the first anniversary of the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, which triggered unprecedented anti-regime protests across Iran. Mahsa, 22, had been detained by the Iranian morality police for incorrectly wearing her hijab and was beaten to death by officers.

Mahsa Amini was beaten to death for incorrectly wearing her hijab in September 2022 CREDIT: Social Networks/ZUMA Press Wire/Shutterstock

Since those protests, a growing number of women have been flouting the hijab in public, even though they risk meeting the same fate as Mahsa.

‘Gender apartheid’

Earlier in September a panel of UN experts, including the special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, warned that the regime’s new law amounted to a form of “gender apartheid”.

“The draft law could be described as a form of gender apartheid, as authorities appear to be governing through systemic discrimination with the intention of suppressing women and girls into total submission,” they said in a joint statement.

The law will be in place for three years following the vote in Iran’s Consultative Assembly, though it still needs to be approved by the powerful Guardian Council, an all-male body that vets legislation.

Iranian officials have also sought other means of pressuring women to wear the religious garment, such as confiscating the cars of those who refuse.

In one particularly grim case, a woman was reportedly forced to wash corpses as punishment for not wearing a hijab.

The use of CCTV, including cameras which use facial recognition, has also been significantly increased to catch women flouting the rule, including those travelling by car.

Prior to last week’s anniversary of Mahsa’s death, checkpoints were being set up around Iranian cities to check women were following the Islamic dress code.

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