A bill containing Iran’s Chastity and Hijab law has been presented to parliament, legislation that many see as a continuation of the government’s oppression of women and human rights.
State media reported on May 24 that provisions of the bill refer to failure to comply by the compulsory head scarf as “nudity,” with progressively stiffer penalties that run up to fines and the deprivation of social rights.
Repeat offenders would face imprisonment from six months to three years.
The Chastity and Hijab bill also imposes stringent penalties on drivers or passengers of a vehicle who are with those who fail to comply with the compulsory hijab. After two fines, a vehicle can be confiscated, with a daily fine of 10 million rials ($20).
The proposed law would penalize owners and managers of public places, including stores, restaurants, cinemas, sports, recreational, and artistic venues. These penalties extend to fines, the sealing of their premises, and the deprivation of tax exemptions and government tariffs.
The hijab became compulsory for women and girls over the age of 9 in 1981, two years after the Islamic Revolution in Iran. The move triggered protests that were swiftly crushed by the new authorities. Many women have flouted the rule over the years and pushed the boundaries of what officials say is acceptable clothing.
Women have also launched campaigns against the discriminatory law, although many have been pressured by the state and forced to leave the country.
Most recently, the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September in police custody for an alleged hijab violation released a new wave of anger that has presented the Islamic regime with its biggest challenge since the revolution.
The “Woman, life, freedom” protests and civil disobedience against the compulsory hijab have swept the country, involving tens of thousands of Iranians, many of whom were already upset over the country’s deteriorating living standards.
The protests have also been buffeted by the participation of celebrities, sports stars, and well-known rights activists, prompting a special mention of such luminaries in the legislation.
The bill states that socially influential individuals, owing to their activities in social, political, cultural, artistic, or sports spheres, could see their professional and online activities banned from three months to a year for violations, with repeated offenders facing up to three years in prison.
In the face of the unrest, some religious and government figures have repeatedly advocated for a tougher stance by the government against offenders, even going as far as encouraging a “fire at will” approach against noncompliant women.
While the protests appear to be waning, resistance to the hijab is likely to increase, analysts say, as it is seen now as a symbol of the state’s repression of women and the deadly crackdown on society.
In recent weeks, the authorities have also shut down businesses, restaurants, cafes, and in some cases pharmacies due to the failure of owners or managers to observe Islamic laws and hijab rules.