Has Iran Really Relaxed Its Dress Code For Women? Not Really

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The "Islamic" dress code requires Iranian women to cover their heads. Hundreds of women have been detained and prosecuted for not obeying the rule for years.

Police will no longer arrest women in Iran’s capital city under the Islamic dress code enforced in the country since the 1979 revolution, Tehran's police chief, Brig. Gen. Hossein Rahimi, recently announced.

For nearly 38 years, Iranian women have faced detention and prosecution under the "Islamic" dress code rule that barred women from wearing nail polish, heavy makeup or loose headscarves.

“Based on a society-oriented, educational approach, the police will not arrest those who don’t respect Islamic values,” Rahimi said, according to the reports from the country’s official Islamic Republic News Agency. “It will instead educate them.”

The women found guilty of breaching the code will attend police structured classes on morality. However, repeated violations will lead to legal consequences, he added.

There are more than 100 centers in Tehran where “education” sessions have been given to nearly 8,000 people over code violations. Rahimi didn't specify when the new guidelines were introduced.

The statement from the police chief has marked a shift from his predecessor, Gen. Hossein Sajedinia. Last year, 7,000 undercover "morality" cops were deployed by Sajedinia just to confront cases of "bad hijab" — a blanket term used for women not dressed according to Islamic code.

In 2015, 40,000 such cases were dealt with, according to Tehran’s traffic police officials.

As part of the Islamic rule imposed in the country for the past four decades, Iranian women are required to cover their heads. However, many women have tried to defy the sexist law. Iranian activist and journalist Masih Alinejad is among these women.

Back in June, she started the hashtag "#WhiteWednesdays," a campaign to raise her voice against the unjust rule. Iranian women supported the movement by posting their pictures on social media wearing white clothes on Wednesdays.

Alinejad shared the pictures on the Facebook page of her website, "My Stealthy Freedom." In some images, women were even seen taking off their head scarves calling for an end to the mandatory hijab.

Responding to the recent development, Alinejad said Iranian officials need to understand that how a woman dresses up should be of no concern to them.

 

??? ?????? ???? ?? ????? ????? ?? ???? ???? ? ???? ?????? ??? ??????. ????? ????? ???? ????????? ????? ???? ?? ???? ?????? ?? ?? ????? ??????? ??? ????! ????: "??? ?? ????? ??????? ???? ????? ?? ????? ?????? ?????? ?? ????? ???????? ???? ?? ????????????? ???????? ? ?????? ??????? ????? ??????? ???? ?? ???????? ?????? ???? ??????." ??? ???? ??? ???? ?????? ????? ??? ?? ??? ?????? ?? ???? ??? ?? ?? ???? ??????? ? ?????? ?? ?? ??? ???? ? ?? ?????? ???? ???? ???? ?? ??? ?????. Tehran’s police chief, Sardar Rahimi, has just announced that the authorities would cease to arrest “badly-veiled” women. Rahimi said, “based on the new directives received from NAJA (Law Enforcement Force of the Islamic Republic of Iran), women who are deemed to have contravened the Islamic dress code will no longer be sent to a detention house and they will not have a case created against them. Instead, they will be required to attend educational classes [to inculcate Islamic values into them]”. Basically, the Islamic Republic thinks that these women are flouting the Islamic dress code because they have not been taught the right values! It seems that the Islamic Republic is still skirting around the problem by avoiding a real solution. It would have better for the officials of the Morality Police, the Security Forces, and the supporters of the compulsory veiling law to attend real educational classes where they could learn to respect women and to avoid interfering with their choices. They should understand that in this day and age, how women dress is none of their business. This is a small victory but a victory nevertheless. But our true victory is when compulsory hijab is abolished. #????????_???_???? #????????_???_????_????? #whitewednesdays

A post shared by Masih Alinejad (@masih.alinejad) on

 

“This is a small victory but a victory nevertheless. But our true victory is when compulsory hijab is abolished,” she wrote on her Instagram.

The rule might have eased but the core issue; i.e. Iranian authorities schooling women on what to wear, remains the same. Women have all the right to make their choices and live their lives according to their will. Educating them on their choices and not arresting them might be a step in the right direction but it's certainly not a viable solution.

Thumbnail Credits: Darren Staples/Reuter

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