Women in Iran are taking part in civil disobedience campaigns against the Islamic Republic’s 12 July National Day of Hijab and Chastity, protesting against mandatory hijab.
In the run-up to the day, activists used the hashtag #No2Hijab or #حجاب_بی_حجاب (Hijab_no_hijab) on social media to build support for the protest with images of women without hijab in public spaces.
It follows a recent escalation in crackdown by the country’s Morality Police, who single out and persecute women they perceive to be wearing ‘bad hijab’ – ostensibly women who refuse to follow strict laws and guidelines on dress code which violate a range of their human rights, including their rights to freedom of expression, religion and belief, equality and to be free from discrimination.
It also comes amid a push for gender segregation in the workplace, and moves to deny women from accessing government services, banks, and other state institutions if they do not observe mandatory dress rules.
“This state day to celebrate the hijab and chastity is nothing more than a blatant attack on the rights and freedoms of women in Iran,” said ARTICLE 19 MENA’s regional director Saloua Ghazouani. “This is not a recognition of the role women play in society, but a rejection of it and an attempt to cover up ongoing violations against them. It is particularly alarming given the so-called Morality Police’s targeting of women on the street, which has intensified in recent weeks. Wearing a hijab must remain a free choice for each woman to make for herself.”
More than 120 women’s and LGBT+ rights activists signed a statement ahead of day. Entitled ‘No Means No’, it outlines the damage done to society by 43 years of compulsory veiling in Iran.
Iran ranked 143 out of 161 countries in the 2022 Global Expression Report – ARTICLE 19’s annual review of the state of freedom of expression and the right to information around the world.