Iran Draconian enforcement of veil requirement

Iran: Draconian enforcement of veil requirement

“The draconian measures range from stopping drivers on the road to mass confiscation of their vehicles, to inhumane floggings and prison sentences,” says Shoura Hashemi, General Director of Amnesty International Austria.

The growing persecution of women and girls by security police and other state authorities comes just weeks before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva votes to extend a fact-finding mission to Iran. to investigate human rights violations, especially against women and children, since the death of Jina Mahsa Amini.

Arbitrary confiscation of cars

According to official statements, since April 2023, the Iranian moral police have ordered the arbitrary confiscation of tens of thousands of vehicles in which female drivers or passengers were sitting without or wearing “inappropriate” headscarves.

Girls from the age of nine are already obliged to wear a veil. According to witnesses, authorities are relying on surveillance camera footage or reports from plainclothes officers who patrol the streets and use a police app called “Nazer” to read license plates of vehicles with female drivers or passengers who violate the requirement of the veil violated, to report. .

Affected women and their families received threatening text messages and phone calls asking them to report themselves to the police and surrender their vehicles because they had defied the requirement to wear a veil. Amnesty International examined screenshots of 60 text messages sent to 22 women and men last year.

Additionally, in recent months, authorities have carried out mass car checks, specifically checking female drivers on busy roads and confiscating their vehicles.

Amnesty International spoke to 11 women who reported intimidating harassment, stops and confiscation of their cars. Everyone carried out their daily activities, on the way to work, medical treatment or school. They highlighted the police's complete disregard for their safety, including stopping women on busy roads or detaining them in towns far from their hometowns.

Those affected reported that the process of removing their cars from the moral police involved long lines and degrading treatment. They described gender-based insults, humiliating orders to cover their hair, or threats of flogging, arrest, and travel bans. In many cases, senior moral police officials order the vehicle to be released after 15 to 30 days. Previously, however, women had to pay arbitrarily set fees for parking and towing vehicle and agree in writing to comply with the obligation to cover themselves.

Denied access to public places and services

According to eyewitnesses, today in Iran, veiled women are denied access to public transport, airports and banking services. Officers check the length and fit of sleeves, pants and uniforms. Women are often insulted, insulted or threatened with criminal prosecution.

A woman told Amnesty International about an incident in late 2023 in which a law enforcement officer at a metro station in Tehran punched her 21-year-old niece in the chest. A 17-year-old girl reported that her school principal temporarily suspended her after a surveillance camera captured her uncovered in a classroom. He threatened to report her to the Revolutionary Guard secret service if she took off her scarf again.

Amnesty International has learned of 15 women and one 16-year-old girl in seven different provinces who have been prosecuted simply for not wearing “inappropriate” headscarves or hijabs or hats in their vehicles, in public spaces or in images on social media.

The extent of such persecution is difficult to determine because authorities do not publish statistics. According to a statement by Qom Provincial Police Chief Mohammad Reza Mirheidary, since March 2023, 1986 criminal cases related to forced veiling have been opened in Qom alone. This suggests that such cases are underreported.

Several women reported that prosecutors and police officers complained about heavy workloads due to women's resistance to mandatory veiling.

Threats of violence and flogging

Amnesty International has documented cases of four women who were ordered by prosecutors to attend up to five morality courses and to avoid any “criminal” behavior for up to a year. Only then would the criminal proceedings against them be stopped. The organization documented the cases of three other women who were sentenced to fines. Another woman was asked to write a letter expressing her remorse.

Amnesty International analyzed a report from the Ministry of Intelligence that ordered continuous monitoring of the online activities of an artist who was being monitored for her Instagram posts.

At the time of publication, cases against six of the women whose cases Amnesty International documented were ongoing.

In addition to punishments, prosecutors and judges threatened most women and girls with flogging and imprisonment; one woman was threatened with death and another with sexual violence. The father of a 16-year-old girl told Amnesty International that a juvenile court judge threatened her with flogging and imprisonment. The girl ended up being acquitted, but had to sign a declaration of commitment to the moral police.

In January 2024, authorities punished Roya Heshmati with 74 lashes for appearing uncovered in public. In a statement posted on her social media account, she said she was whipped by a male officer in the presence of a judge in a room she described as a “medieval torture chamber.”

UN Member States, including Austria, must insist that the Iranian authorities abolish the use of the mandatory veil, annul all convictions and sentences for violating the mandatory veil, and unconditionally release all persons imprisoned for refusing to wear the veil. mandatory veil.

Shoura Hashemi, General Director of Amnesty International Austria

New law must legally anchor attacks

The Iranian parliament is about to pass a law that will legally enshrine and further intensify official attacks on women and girls who refuse to wear the veil. In February 2024, President Ebrahim Raisi officially accepted the significant financial costs of implementing the proposed law, paving the way for the law's passage.

“UN member states, including Austria, must insist that the Iranian authorities abolish the use of the mandatory veil, annul all convictions and punishments for violations of the mandatory veil, and unconditionally release all persons imprisoned for refusing to wear the veil. mandatory veil”, says Shoura Hashemi, and also says:

“Authorities must immediately stop punishing women and girls for exercising their rights to equality, privacy and freedom of expression, religion and belief.”

Stop the oppression in Iran!

We have to act now! Governments like Austria must finally take a stand and use their influence to pressure Iran. Austria must defend the people and their rights in Iran!

Support the appeal online now