#Opinion

Iranian Woman Dies In Custody Over Hijab Rules: How Is This Even Remotely ‘Moral?’

Iran Women Burns Hijab Cuts Hair
A young Iranian woman has died days after being detained by the regime’s morality police for allegedly not complying with the country’s hijab regulations. 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was on a visit with her family to the Iranian capital when she was detained on Tuesday by the police unit responsible for enforcing the Islamic republic’s strict dress code for women, which includes the compulsory wearing of the headscarf in public.

Local news reports that the morality police arrested Amini, who was with her brother, in front of the Haghani metro station in Tehran for what authorities described as an “improper” hijab. They told her brother she was being taken to the morality police headquarters for an “educational and orientation class.”

Her brother, Kiarash, said he never saw his sister awake again.

Iran Morality Police and crackdown on women’s rights

Amini’s family were notified that she had been taken to hospital hours after her arrest. She was transferred to an intensive-care unit after suffering from a cardiac seizure while in custody, police claimed. Witnesses reported that Amini was beaten in the police van, an allegation the police deny.

However, her family questioned the version of events given by the police and disputed that she was healthy and bereft of any prior ailments. Amini was in a coma after arriving at the hospital, her family said, adding that they were told by hospital staff that she was brain dead.

Reacting to the news, human rights organisation Amnesty International said. “The circumstances leading to the suspicious death in custody of 22-year-old young woman Mahsa Amini, which include allegations of torture and other ill-treatment in custody, must be criminally investigated.

“The so-called ‘morality police’ in Tehran arbitrarily arrested her three days before her death while enforcing the country’s abusive, degrading and discriminatory forced veiling laws. All agents and officials responsible must face justice, it added.

Iranian Woman Dies

MAHSA AMINI | Police denied eyewitness reports that Mahsa Amini had been beaten in custody

This news comes weeks after Iran’s hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, ordered a crackdown on women’s rights and called for stricter enforcement of the country’s mandatory dress code, which has required all women to wear the hijab concealing their hair and neck with a headscarf.

There is a growing controversy both inside and outside Iran over the conduct of the morality police, known formally as the Gasht-e Ershad (Guidance Patrol). In July, a video of a woman standing in front of one of the force’s vans pleading for her daughter’s release went viral on social media. The veiled woman kept holding on to the van as it pulled off, only to be thrown back after it gathered speed.

Also in July, Iranian writer Sepideh Rashno disappeared after becoming involved in a dispute on a Tehran bus with another woman who accused her of removing her headscarf. She was held by the Revolutionary Guards and later appeared on television in what activists said was a forced confession before being released on bail in late August.

Despite reforms, gender-based violence remains rampant

Iran’s mandatory hijab law, which went into effect in 1981 after the Islamic Revolution, has long been challenged by many women, and in recent years some have appeared in public without the required scarf and robe.

Despite some limited reforms, women continue to face discrimination and daily violence amid the abject failure of governments to stamp out arbitrary regulations. The tactics of morality police units range from verbal notices, to monetary fines, to violently dragging women into vans for detention. Drag, torture, threaten your women all in the name of preserving morality? How is this even remotely moral?

Women will never truly be free as long as morality and decency depends on policing the length of a woman’s skirt or trapping vulnerable groups with the catchall of debauchery accusations. What is more indecent: torture or a glimpse of a woman’s hair? Just let them be. Scarf or no scarf, society needs to stop putting a veil on her choices.

It is time to get rid of the patriarchal shackles and so-called ‘morality’ laws that only serve misogynists.


Suggested Reading: Why Iranian-American Shahla Ettefagh Moved To Rishikesh To Start A School For Underprivileged Kids

 

 

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