UN demands Iran drop 'demeaning' new hijab law

AFP , Friday 22 Sep 2023

The UN called Friday on Iranian authorities to scrap a new law that dramatically increases penalties for women who flout strict Islamic dress code, describing it as "repressive and demeaning".

Iran Hijab
In this file photo, A picture obtained by AFP outside Iran shows a woman walking without a head scarf in the heart of the Iranian capital Tehran, on October 11, 2022. AFP


The United Nations rights office said it deeply regretted the passage of the so-called Chastity and Hijab Bill, which threatens Iranian women who flout the strict Islamic dress code mandating head coverings and modest clothing with up to 10 years behind bars.

The law "vastly increases jail terms and provides for crushing fines on women and girls who do not obey the compulsory dress code," spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva.

In addition to long jail sentences and heavy fines, those found in breach could under the same bill be flogged and face travel restrictions.

UN rights chief "Volker Turk reiterates that this draconian bill flagrantly flies in the face of international law, and that it must be shelved", Shamdasani said.

The push in Iran to step up penalties comes a year after a wave of protests sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who had been arrested for allegedly breaching the rules.

Since then, a growing number of Iranian women have been seen in public without hijab head scarves or observing the rules against clothes that are deemed too tight-fitting or otherwise revealing.

Iran's legislature approved decree, which is fully named the "Bill to Support the Family by Promoting the Culture of Chastity and Hijab" for a trial period of three years," the official IRNA news agency reported.

"The bill is unfortunately worse than what we had before," Shamdasani said.

"Unfortunately, we haven't seen much progress in spite of the outpouring of outrage following the killing of Mahsa Amini," she said.

"The situation has not improved with regards to the rights of women in Iran."

Shamdasani urged Iranian authorities to take steps to "eliminate" the bill, which she described as "both repressive and demeaning".

"Women and girls must not be treated as second class citizens," she said.

"The authorities have a duty to respect, protect and fulfil, equally, the rights of all Iranians."

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