- Iranian parliament passes bill to intensify penalties for violating dress code.
- Women deemed to be dressed “inappropriately” could face up to 10 years in prison.
- UN human rights experts warn bill could be described as a form of gender apartheid.
Iran’s parliament has passed a contentious bill that would intensify penalties, including longer prison terms and higher fines, for women and girls who violate the nation’s strict dress code.
Those deemed to be dressed “inappropriately” could potentially face up to 10 years in prison if the bill is approved by the Guardian Council and becomes law.
This development follows protests triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini while in the custody of morality police for an alleged improper hijab.
During these nationwide protests against the clerical establishment, women expressed their discontent by burning or waving their headscarves, resulting in a significant crackdown by security forces in which hundreds were reportedly killed.
Despite the return of morality police and the installation of surveillance cameras, a growing number of women and girls have chosen not to cover their hair in public since the unrest subsided.
By Iranian law, which is based on the country’s interpretation of Sharia, women and girls above the age of puberty are required to wear a hijab to cover their hair and don long, loose-fitting attire to conceal their figures.
Currently, non-compliance carries a penalty of 10 days to two months in prison or a fine ranging from 5,000 to 500,000 rials ($0.10-$10.14 at the black market exchange rate).
On Wednesday, members of parliament voted 152 to 34 in favor of the “Hijab and Chastity Bill.” The bill stipulates that individuals caught dressed “inappropriately” in public places could face a “fourth-degree” punishment, translating to a prison sentence of five to 10 years and a fine of 180 million to 360 million rials ($3,651-$7,302).
Additionally, the bill proposes fines for those who “promote nudity” or “mock the hijab” through media and social networks, as well as for owners of vehicles in which a female driver or passenger is not adhering to the hijab or appropriate clothing, according to AFP news agency. Individuals engaged in “organized promotion of dress code violations” or those involved “in cooperation with foreign or hostile governments, media, groups, or organizations” could also face imprisonment for five to 10 years, as outlined in the bill.
The next step for this bill is approval by the Guardian Council, a conservative body composed of clerics and jurists with the authority to veto legislation they deem inconsistent with the constitution and Sharia.