Ten Years Jail Term For Iran’s New ‘Hijab and Chastity Bill’
On Wednesday, Sept. 20th, Iran’s parliament passed the Hijab and Chastity bill, increasing prison terms and fines for those violating the country’s strict dress code. The bill, often called the “hijab bill,” raises prison times to 10 years for women refusing to wear headscarves or appropriately modest attire in public.
In addition to facing up to a decade of imprisonment, individuals found in violation of this new decree could face heightened fines, flogging, travel restrictions, and removal of online access. In a press briefing, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called the new law “draconian,” “repressive,” and “demeaning.”
Fully titled the Bill to Support the Family by Promoting the Culture of Chastity and Hijab, the bill will undergo a three-year trial period if approved by Iran’s Guardian Council.
PUNISHMENTS INCREASE UNDER THE NEW HIJAB AND CHASTITY BILL
Based on Iran’s interpretation of Sharia, the country’s present law requires women and girls over puberty to cover their hair and wear conservative attire described as long and loose-fitting to conceal their figure. Under current law, those who do not adhere to these rules may be punished with ten days to two months of prison time or a fine of 5,000 to 500,000 rials (about $0.12 to USD 11.84).
The bill, passed on Wednesday by a vote of 152 to 34, now seeks that individuals who violate this dress code will face a “fourth-degree” punishment. This includes a prison term between five and ten years and a fine between 180 million and 360 million rials, equaling $4,260 to USD 8,520, as calculated by CNN.
The Hijab and Chastity Bill also poses fines for individuals mocking the hijab in the media or on social networks and those “promoting nudity” on these platforms. Fines may also occur for vehicle owners in which female drivers or passengers are not wearing appropriate attire.
Those encouraging flouting the dress code in an organized manner or in collaboration with foreign governments, organizations, groups, or media may also be imprisoned for five to 10 years.
DISCIPLINES INCREASED DAYS AFTER THE ANNIVERSARY OF AMINA’S DEATH
These new penalties come nearly one year after Mahsa Amina’s death ignited protests across Iran. Last September, Amini became a symbol of oppression for women in Iran after she died following detainment by Iran’s morality police for allegedly not conforming to the country’s strictly enforced dress code.
Amini’s death last Sept. 16th incited nationwide demonstrations of defiance and protest against Iran’s strict rules and resulting gender violence, which were heavily clamped down upon, with over 500 protesters being killed and more than 22,000 detainments.
Despite these severe retaliations, many women continued to defy restrictions, publicly removing their hijabs as a form of protest. In response, the Iranian government issued a new campaign to enforce the dress code even more strictly.
NEW BILL IS CONSIDERED GENDER APARTHEID BY HUMAN RIGHTS EXPERTS
UN human rights experts have forewarned that the bill could be categorized as a form of gender apartheid “as authorities appear to be governing through systemic discrimination with the intention of suppressing women and girls into total submission.”
The team of eight experts also stated, “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.”
The Guardian Council must approve the bill before it can be implemented. This 12-member group has the authority to veto the bill if it is inconsistent with Sharia and the Iranian constitution.
In the interim, the Iranian government established a firm and unyielding approach to defiance and protest.