Iranian police deploys special patrols to monitor hijab wearing
Iran's police force has announced the immediate deployment of foot and car patrols to address individuals who defy societal norms by dressing outside the accepted Islamic standards. General Sardar Saeed Montazer al-Mahdi, a police spokesman, stated that their objective is to enhance public security and preserve traditional family values. The patrols will primarily issue warnings to those violating the hijab law, which mandates women to cover their hair and wear loose clothing. However, individuals persisting in non-compliance will face legal prosecution. According to Tasnim News Agency, affiliated with the IRGC, the teams assigned for this work have judicial permission to prosecute, and it may be possible that some patrols are accompanied by a “judge on duty”.. All police officers participating in this plan must be equipped with body cameras or other devices to record any encounters. It remains unclear whether this initiative involves the revival of the morality police, previously claimed to have been disbanded, or if the regular police will now assume their responsibilities. The Tasnim News Agency quoted the senior commanders of the police force saying: "In no way will the Ershad patrol vans return to the streets, and no car with the inscription "Gestht Irshad" will be seen."
Judiciary drafts provisions to expand and increase punishment for improper hijab
The Judiciary’s Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Deputy Office drafted a set of provisions seeking to expand the scope of criminal “offenses” in connection with mandatory hijab and to increase the stipulated punishments for such acts significantly. The draft bill, entitled “Hijab And Chastity,” was sent to the Government, who then submitted it to the Parliament on May 30th, 2023.
The first draft tabled to the Parliament contains 15 articles. The draft essentially requires law enforcement - “the enforcers of the judiciary,” - to “take action” against individuals who, in public spaces, public buildings, and online: 1) do not wear the mandatory hijab; and/or 2) show skin other than the face/hands, wear thin or revealing clothing; and/or 3) appear fully naked (which in practice may include various degree of nudity, e.g., appearing in a swimsuit could be considered as full nudity). According to the draft, law enforcement would be entitled to enforce punishments against women they consider as not abiding by the mandatory hijab, which would apply before the case is referred to a judge.
The draft legislation also mandates that officials, managers, and employees working in public institutions, as well as owners, managers, and employees of private enterprises, enforce the draft law or risk being exposed to a range of penalties. According to the draft, operators of public transportation as well as individuals employed in educational or research centers, are responsible for ensuring that those under their supervision adhere to dress requirements. Failure to do so could result in consequences ranging from an official warning issued by their supervisors or public inspectors to, in cases of repeated “offense,” temporary salary reductions, “revocation of privileges,” termination of employment, restrictions on future employment, or even criminal prosecution. Additionally, the draft stipulates that officials and managers operating in public spaces are also required to “take the necessary measures such as environmental advertisements and notices in a way that facilitates the implementation of the law, while exercising supervision for the implementation of this law in their management area”. Owners, managers, and operators of “stores, restaurants, cinemas, and recreational and artistic sports venues” who fail to adhere with the requirements may face a range of punishments that include a warning of closure, temporary forced closure, or definite closure of the establishment.
It is unclear at this stage whether the draft would amend, add on, or otherwise interact with Art. 638 of the Islamic Penal Code. The draft seems to codify a range of penalties that would be imposed prior to potential criminal prosecution under Art. 638.
Government Approves Bill on Chastity and Hijab Enforcement
A government spokesperson announced that the bill proposed by the judiciary regarding chastity and hijab was examined and approved by the government and sent for review to the Islamic Council. The draft bill includes identification of non-compliance of hijab through smart systems, giving up to three warnings (which may include a fine), and upon the fourth warning, the individual will be referred to a relevant judicial authority to be punished. An article in this proposed bill states that "No one has the right to commit criminal acts such as insulting, slandering, threatening or assaulting or violating their privacy under the title of enjoining good or prohibiting evil against women who have not observed the Islamic hijab." risking punishment as prescribed in the law.
Deprivation of internet services, closure of businesses and impoundment of cars are among other things that are considered in this law for those women that do not observe hijab. This bill also emphasizes the necessity of wearing hijab by employees and clients of government offices and says that if the clients do not wear hijab, they will be denied from receiving administrative services. This bill also increases the punishments against celebrities or influencers who do not comply with the hijab to be one ‘degree’ greater than the usual imposed upon a non-celebrity, depending on the severity of the case. They are to be deprived of their professional activities from 3 months to a year. Finally, those who comment on the Internet against mandatory hijab, after receiving a warning and a fine, will be punished with "deprivation of internet services for three to six months" and then they will be brought to court.
Legal Case Filed Against Actresses for Hijab Violations
A legal case has been filed against two actresses, Afshana Baygan and Fateme Motamedarya, for not observing mandatory hijab. IRNA, the official news agency of the Islamic Republic of Iran, quoted the police command of Tehran as saying, "Due to the obvious crime and illegal actions of these people, a preliminary case was filed in the Public Security Police and is being investigated at the Ershad Judicial Complex." The Police Command of the Islamic Republic of Iran recently said that 500 cases of judicial and operational measures, including warning, summons, removal and blocking, have been carried out in connection with "encouragement of nakedness, body exposure, vulgar modeling, immoral pornographic live shows and body carving". He did not give a specific time frame for this number.
Ministry of Information Clarifies Student Poisoning Cases
The Ministry of Information has published a statement in regards to the chain poisoning of students, and has stated that the cases are divided into five categories: (1) Stink bombs - student pranks, (2) Pepper Spray - student mischief and playfulness with the intention to not go to school, (3) Panic caused by the presence of odorous agents in the surrounding environment to protest, (4) Anti-Security goals to ‘fuel the perception of weak security’ in the country + protests, (5) Mass hysteria - Psychologists have found that it was mass hysteria for a significant number of schools. In conclusion, the Ministry found no toxic substance capable of causing poisoning was found, and that it was a result of student pranks, anti-security goals, and mass hysteria.
Enforcing Hijab Law Poses Challenges, says Iranian Official
The spokesperson of the Headquarters of Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil stated: “The hijab law is not "enforceable" and is problematic as it is old, has no guarantee of implementation in this field, and is not implemented properly in the country, and if we want it to be implemented, enforcers will face problems".
New Crackdown on Unveiled Women Announced
Ahmadreza Radan, the Commander-in-Chief of the Police Force of the Islamic Republic of Iran, had previously warned that starting on Saturday, April 15, women without hijab on public roads, in cars or in business/commercial places will be taken to court with documents/evidence. This warning was endorsed by certain members of Parliament including Abu Tarabi (Representative of Najaf Abadi) as well the Chief Justice of Iran Gholamhossein Mohseni-Eje'i.
UN Experts Condemn Repressive Enforcement of Iranian Hijab Laws
UN experts condemned the repressive enforcement of Iranian hijab laws, noting coercive measures such as denying educational services to girls that refuse to comply with mandatory hijab, or women being denied access to businesses and public places as business owners face the danger of their businesses closing if their female customers do not comply with hijab laws. They note: “The discriminatory and degrading measures allow judicial authorities to detain women and girls who do not comply with the hijab rules in order to force them to sign a written document stating that they will not repeat the ‘offence’,” and women who refuse to sign such a document, or generally refuse to comply with the compulsory veiling after signing the written document, can face a range of “punishments” including being placed under surveillance for six months and restrictions on foreign travel for up to a year and exclusion from government or public positions.
Smart Systems Deployed for Hijab Enforcement in Iran
In a statement on Saturday, the police's information center said it will be using smart systems as an "innovative measure" to "prevent any tension and conflict with fellow citizens in establishing the hijab law". It was stated that smart cameras will be installed in public places to identify people who break norms and the hijab law. After which a warning message will be sent to the individual about the legal consequences of repeating this crime. If after the first and second messages, a lack of hijab is discovered in the car, people are obliged to pay a 100,000 toman fine.
Education Ministry Bars Unveiled Girls from Schools & Universities
The Ministry of Education announced that universities and schools should not provide education and other services to girls who are unveiled. The Ministry of Education emphasised in his statement the importance of encouraging morality and Islamic principles amongst youth in regards to modesty and Shari’a Law.
Ministry of Health Bars Services to Non-Hijabis
The cultural and student affairs deputy to the Ministry of Health further emphasized that the educational centers of the Ministry of Health, Treatment and Medical Education are not allowed to provide services to those who do not observe Islamic hijab.
Ministry Urges Hijab Enforcement in Public Places
The Ministry of Interior issued a statement urging the enforcement of Hijab in public places. This statement also encouraged citizens to perform their religious duty of "enjoining good and forbidding wrong" and warn women with improper Hijabs.
Measures Proposed to Strengthen Hijab Enforcement in Iran
During a public session of the Iranian Parliament, Bijan Nobaveh, a member of the Cultural Commission, announced seven new proposed measures related to the hijab prepared by the Commission. These measures were based on the Hijab and Chastity Plan approved by the Supreme Council as well as the law implemented in 2006. The Cultural Commission emphasised the lack of implementation of this plan and law, and the necessity for further engagement. According to this report, from December 2021 to March 2022, the Cultural Commission corresponded with "31 institutions" to "present the challenges, gaps and obstacles of the non-implementation of the said resolution to this commission while presenting their performance report".
Part of the seven new proposed measures include:
Physical punishment will not be allowed, and instead will be punished according to a ‘predetermined table’. This includes depriving women from access to banking services, driver’s licenses, their passports, mobile SIM cards and/or internet access.
Surveillance cameras will be used by the Faraja (National Police Force) and judicial officers under the supervision of prosecutors to monitor public spaces for women not wearing hijab, and those who violate the law will be taken to court or have their mobile phone and internet connections cut off.
Shop owners and operators of businesses are responsible for implementing the rules and if they violate it, their businesses will be sealed off.
Bijan Nobaweh told Mehr News Agency that the seven-point report of the Parliament's Cultural Commission once again emphasized that "the responsibility for observing the hijab and implementing the hijab rules in shopping centers and malls rests with the owners and operators of these centers.”
Article 19 on this: “In yet another alarming statement on 15 March, Bijan Nobaveh, a member of the Cultural Commission of parliament, announced a proposal on hijab and chastity prepared by the Commission, which entails ‘seven suggested provisions regarding intelligent and indirect confrontation [to lack of adherence to forced veiling] so that there would not be any instances of physical confrontation in enforcing the law while the nation’s hijab is preserved and those breaching the law are punished…’ He further stated that under the new proposal, the SIM cards of women who, after receiving several warnings with regards to their hijab do not comply, will be blocked and their access to the internet cut off. “
Ahmad Naderi, a member of the Presidium of the Iranian Parliament, denied Bijan Nobaweh’s statements and said: "The opinion of a representative is never considered the opinion of the Parliament... The proposal proposed by some representatives regarding the hijab has not yet entered the process of consideration by the Parliament."
Pharmacies Shut Down for Violating Hijab Regulations
“Officials have recently moved to seal off the businesses of some "violators," including this week when a hotel in the city of Kashan and a shopping center in the capital, Tehran, were closed because employers were not observing the mandatory hijab rule.”
Pharmacies Shut Down for Violating Hijab Regulations
The authorities recently shut down two pharmacies, one in Tehran (mid February) and another in the northern city of Amol (end of January) after female employees were reported for not wearing a hijab.
Pharmacies Shut Down for Violating Hijab Regulations
Bahram Ainollahi, Iran's Minister of Health emphasised the necessity of observing hijab in public and private medical centers, the latter of which may not be approved or accredited as a result of non-compliance. He reiterates non-compliance is a violation of the law. He also emphasised that women's ultrasounds must always be done by women, and that government hospitals should comply with the 2001 Law on the Compliance of Administrative and Technical Affairs of Medical Institutions with the Standards of the Holy Sharia.
Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution to Undergo Transformation
Following a decree from the Supreme Leader requesting the expansion of the tasks and systematic influence of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, the Council was approved to go through a fundamental transformation.The Secretary of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution stated that the members of the Council have commented on the need for a fundamental transformation of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, which would lead to a promotion of its position and its systematic influence to implement its resolutions. Although the body has proposed a variety of resolutions, the implementation of said resolutions remains weak, thus leading to the need for a structural and institutional change. The document detailing the transformation was approved by the judiciary, Islamic Council, Parliament, and other relevant government bodies.
Services Denied to Unveiled Women in Iranian Provinces
An official from a local sub-branch of the Bureau, the Chastity And Hijab Headquarters in Southern Khorasan province, announced that no institution, bank or company in the province was permitted to provide services to women who appeared in public without a veil. He further added that managers would be held responsible if it is found that services have been provided to women without a veil under their supervision. Same announcement in Yazd Same in Hamadan.
Draft Bill Expands Punishments for Veiling Offenses in Iran
Draft Bill on Discretionary Punishments sent to the Government for legislative processes in December 2022 expands the scope of punishments/offences in connection with compulsory veiling. This is aimed to effectively replace Book Five of the Islamic Penal Code. It has explicit provisions for hijab (Articles 178, 180, 181):
Article 178 - Women who appear in public without a hijab, the judicial authority will take action according to Article (80) of the Criminal Procedure Law approved in 2013. If a person refuses to give a commitment in the judicial authority or after giving a commitment, commits the said behavior again, he will be sentenced to one of the social punishments of the eighth degree, and the court can, in addition to the said punishment, make him participate in educational, moral and religious courses. Condemn for one to two weeks as an additional punishment.
Iran's Judiciary Seeks Solutions for Social Security Police Issue
Mohammad Jaafar Montazeri, the Attorney General of Iran stated that “the judicial system is not seeking to shut down the social security police (i.e Gasht Ershad/Morality Police)”. However, after the recent incidents, the security and cultural institutions are looking for a prudent solution to the problem. The judicial system is preparing and drafting a bill related to the field of chastity and hijab.
Harsher Penalties Proposed for Violations of Mandatory Hijab
Hossein Jalali, a member of the Islamic Council and a member of the Cultural Commission, has said that there are proposals in parliament seeking to "block the bank accounts of women without a veil". There are proposals for stiffer penalties imposed on women who fail to respect the mandatory hijab, but the law has been proposed to move away from physical confrontation with hijab violators. He explained that the latest proposals include cancelling passports and driving licenses, increasing the fines ranging from 500,000 toman to 3 billion toman, and denying access to the internet to celebrities or influencers.
Unclear Future for Iran's Moral Patrols and Chastity Measures
Mohammad Jaafar Montazeri, the Attorney General of Iran, announced the "suspension of the Irshad patrol" in vague statements, and Ali Khanmohammadi, the spokesperson of the "Headquarters for Enjoining Good and Prohibition of Evil", said in a not so clear statement that "the mission of moral and social security patrols" has ended and "newer, more up-to-date and more accurate methods" should be used for chastity and hijab.
Head of Bank Branch Dismissed Over Service to Unveiled Woman
After a video circulated on social media of a woman without hijab receiving services from a bank, the Governor of Qom issued an order to dismiss the head of the banking branch who had provided services to a woman without hijab, reminding other supervisors and managers of all bank branches in the province to observe the law.
Iran's Chastity Plan: Stricter Hijab Enforcement & Penalties Proposed
The Chastity and Hijab Plan of the Amr Be Maruf Headquarters was apparently sent last winter to most of Iran's government agencies. This plan details the gaps in the law, proposes changes that are necessary to ensure mainstreaming of chastity throughout society. Government institutions were ordered by the Amr be Maruf HQ to implement every single one of its stipulations, which had been pre-approved by the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution. Among the proposals or reiterations of existing laws to be implemented are:
Introducing surveillance cameras to monitor and fine unveiled women or refer them for "counseling";
Fines for any individual who designs, imports, buys or sells "vulgar dresses";
New disciplinary policies for actresses who do any work with the state broadcaster;
A mandatory prison sentence for any Iranian who questions or posts content against mandatory hijab online, ranging from 91 days to two years and/or a fine of 5 million to 40 million rials, anyone, male or female, who posts text or images on social media that question or go against the mandatory hijab policy. If an Iranian woman posts an unveiled picture of herself on social media, it says, “she must be banned from using social media for six months to a year, and deprived of one social right or more.” This is stated to be in line with Articles 14, 15, 16 and 17 of the Law on Computer Crimes, Clause 2, Article 6 of the Press Law, and Articles 3 to 12 of the Law on how to punish persons who are involved in audio-visual matters they operate, as well as a proposed additional article to the Law of Computer Crimes under the Fourth Chapter (crimes against chastity)
Businesses offering services like bridal make-up and garments are obliged to “control how the bride and her companions enter or exit the premises” – or face a cash fine and revocation of their trader's permit. The Ministry of Culture is obliged to fine anyone designing, making, importing, selling or buying “vulgar” women's dresses.