Women in Iran are protesting the government’s enforcement of the head scarf law by taking off their head scarves in public and waving them on sticks.
A few weeks ago I covered widespread protests in Iran that had spread throughout Iran’s cities and rural towns. The protests began with the people’s frustrations about the economy, but quickly grew into huge demonstrations against the conservative Islamic government itself. While the large-scale protests have quieted down, the demonstrations have not stopped completely. Women are still protesting the government’s head scarf requirement.
According to social media, at least 6 women yesterday protested throughout Iran by taking off their head scarves and waving them around on sticks. Among them was a 28-year-old woman who asked not to be named for fear of being arrested. She was quoted in a telephone interview as saying, “My hands were trembling. I was anxious and feeling powerful at the same time. And proud, I felt proud.” She also said, “I took my scarf off because I’m tired of the government telling me what to do with my body.”
One of the other women who participated did get arrested according to a shopkeeper who witnessed it. The morality police have aggressively enforced the country’s conservative laws, inspired by the Islamic faith. Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution Iran has been a staunchly conservative country, where the government dictates dress requirements, what kinds of music or TV shows people can enjoy, and more.
The women who protested yesterday seem to have been inspired by a woman who protested in late December, and did the same thing. She took off her scarf and waved it on a stick, and pictures of her doing so spread quickly on social media. That woman was reportedly arrested on December 27th. Authorities claimed that the woman had been released, but she may have been arrested again a short time later. As of January 23rd, she had still not been seen in public since the December 27th protest. Social media hashtags #where_is_she and #WhereIsShe began circulating on Twitter as the woman’s fate remained unknown.
The 28-year-old woman who protested yesterday said, “If a lot of people do this, it will have more influence.” I hope she is right. If enough of Iran’s citizens stand up to the conservative theocratic government then hopefully they can move past this dark chapter in their country’s history and create a more enlightened, fair, and balanced government. One thing is for certain though, these women are incredibly brave for standing up to the authorities and fighting for their rights.