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A year after anti-Hijab protests, Iran’s parliament passes ‘hijab and chastity’ bill, women could face 10 years in jail for ‘inappropriate’ dress

As per the bill, women who would be caught dressed "inappropriately" in public places will be subject to a "fourth-degree" punishment. According to the penal code, it would mean a prison sentence ranging between five and 10 years along with a fine of up to 360m rials ($7,302).

A year after women in Iran came out to protest against the mandatory Hijab law after the murder of Mahsa Amini, the Iranian parliament passed a ‘hijab and chastity’ bill on Wednesday (20 September). The bill seeks to increase jail terms and fines for women and girls who ‘flout’ Tehran’s strict dress code. As per the bill, girls/women who dress “inappropriately” could face up to 10 years in jail. 

The bill was introduced in the Iranian parliament in May following the death of 22-year-old Iranian woman Mahsa Amini while in police custody last year on 16 September. 

As per the judiciary’s Mizan news, the bill has been approved for a three-year trial period. According to media reports, the lawmakers were split regarding the trial period with some even proposing it to be five years. However, they agreed on a trial period of three years, after which it will become a permanent law

The bill contains more than 70 articles and it was passed with 152 votes in favour, 34 against, and seven abstentions. However, to become a law, it would still need to be approved by the Guardian Council, a conservative body of clerics and jurists that is largely controlled by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. If they consider the bill inconsistent with the constitution and Sharia, the Council has the power to veto it.

According to Iranian law, based on the country’s interpretation of Sharia, women and girls above the age of puberty have to cover their hair with a hijab and wear long, loose-fitting clothing to disguise their figures. Currently, women who do not comply with the dress code face a maximum prison term of two months or a fine of up to 500,000 rials ($10.14). 

However, the bill passed by the Iranian parliament will drastically increase the punishment. As per the bill, women who would be caught dressed “inappropriately” in public places will be subject to a “fourth-degree” punishment. According to the penal code, it would mean a prison sentence ranging between five and 10 years along with a fine of up to 360m rials ($7,302).

According to the AFP news agency, the bill proposes fines for those “promoting nudity” or “making fun of the hijab” in the media and on social networks. Additionally, the fine will also be imposed on owners of vehicles in which a female driver or passenger would be found not wearing the hijab or dressed appropriately.

Further, as per the bill, any person who promotes violating the dress code “in an organised manner” or “in co-operation with foreign or hostile governments, media, groups or organisations” could also be imprisoned for between five and 10 years.

Broadcasters will have to show programmes “to introduce and promote the symbols and patterns of the family-oriented Islamic lifestyle” and “the culture of chastity and hijab,” according to the full version of the bill published by the IRGC-affiliated Fars news agency, reported National News. 

Furthermore, business owners who would be found ‘guilty’ of serving women without the hijab will also face a travel ban. As per media reports, offices responsible for University admissions will also have to take chastity and the hijab into account while selecting students.

Despite the return of the morality police to the streets and the installation of surveillance cameras, many women continue to defy Iran’s dress code and appear in public without the mandatory hijab. 

However, in recent months, Iran has announced several measures to clamp down on women’s freedoms. This includes barring women without the hijab from universities and their workplaces. Following the installation of surveillance cameras, Iranian authorities have confiscated vehicles from women driving without a hijab in their own cars. 

Earlier this month, eight independent UN human rights experts described the bill as a form of “gender apartheid”. The experts said, “The bill also violates fundamental rights, including the right to take part in cultural life, the prohibition of gender discrimination, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to peaceful protest, and the right to access social, educational, and health services, and freedom of movement.”

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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