Amnesty International | September 21, 2023
Reacting to the news that Iran’s parliament has passed a new bill that would impose further draconian penalties severely violating women’s and girls’ rights as well as increasing prison terms and fines for defying Iran’s degrading and discriminatory compulsory veiling laws, Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa said:
“This bill is a despicable assault on the human rights of women and girls that will further entrench violence and discrimination against them in Iran. If approved by Iran’s Guardian Council, it will further exacerbate the already suffocating surveillance and policing of women’s bodies and require the Islamic Republic’s various political, security and administrative arms to obsessively observe compliance with compulsory veiling laws and control women’s and girls’ lives.
“The Iranian authorities are doubling down on punishments against women and girls who claim their human rights to freedom of expression, religion, belief and bodily autonomy. This all-out assault is part of the authorities’ ongoing efforts to crush the spirit of resistance among those who dared to stand up against decades of oppression and inequality as part of the ‘Woman Life Freedom’ popular uprising.
“States must urgently call on the Iranian authorities to revoke the bill and abolish all degrading and discriminatory compulsory veiling laws and regulations. They must also pursue legal pathways at the international level to hold Iranian officials accountable for ordering, planning and committing such widespread and systematic violations against women and girls.”
“The Iranian authorities are doubling down on punishments against women and girls who claim their human rights to freedom of expression, religion, belief and bodily autonomy.”
Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International
On 20 September, Iran’s parliament approved the “Bill to Support the Culture of Chastity and Hijab”. The bill needs to be approved by Iran’s Guardian Council to become law. It would expand the powers and capabilities of intelligence and security bodies including the Revolutionary Guards, the paramilitary Basij force and the police to control and further oppress women and girls.
The law equates unveiling to “nudity” and provides for prison terms of up to 10 years for anyone who defies compulsory veiling laws. The law also makes “insulting or ridiculing the hijab” a criminal offence punishable by a prison sentence, travel ban and/or fine and encourages ordinary people, businesses, and pro-government vigilantes to enforce compulsory veiling.
In May 2023, the authorities presented the “Bill to Support the Culture of Chastity and Hijab” to parliament. In August 2023, parliamentarians voted for the revised bill, which was not made public at the time, to be adopted in a closed special internal committee, in order to expedite its passing, further evading transparency and public scrutiny. On 20 September, the special internal committee approved the text of the bill, which was then sent to the Guardian Council for final approval.