Iran intensifies crackdown on women defying veiling laws: Amnesty

Cairo, Jul 26 (EFE).- Iranian authorities are stepping up oppressive methods of policing women who defy the compulsory veiling laws, Amnesty International said in a report published on Thursday.

In a detailed analysis, the rights group warned of an “intensified nationwide crackdown on women and girls” who chose not to cover their heads.

“Morality policing in Iran is back. The authorities are not fooling anyone by removing the insignia of the ‘morality’ police from uniforms and patrol vans, while emboldening the enforcers of the Islamic Republic’s oppression and subjugation of women and girls to engage in the same violence that killed Mahsa Zhina Amini with impunity,” AI Secretary General Agnès Callamard said in a statement.

“Today’s crackdown is intensified by mass surveillance technologies capable of identifying unveiled women in their cars and pedestrian spaces,” Callamard added.

Protests calling for more women’s rights erupted in Iran in September last year triggered by the death in police custody of Amini, who was arrested by Iran’s morality police for not wearing her veil correctly.

The Iranian regime responded with a violent crackdown that has left over 500 dead, according to the Oslo-based Iran Human Rights organization.

On July 16, police spokesman Saeed Montazer Almahdi announced the return of police patrols to enforce mandatory veiling and threatened legal action against women and girls who defy the rules.According to AI, official announcements reveal that, since April 15, over one million women have received text messages warning them that their vehicles could be confiscated after being caught on camera without a headscarf.

The rights group also warns that “countless women have been suspended or expelled from universities, barred from sitting final exams, and denied access to banking services and public transport.”

“The intensified crackdown exposes the dubious nature of the Iranian authorities’ previous claims of disbanding the ‘morality’ police, amid contradictory official statements over its return to Iranian streets,” the report said.

Judicial and executive authorities have further codified and intensified the government’s crackdown by submitting a bill to Support the Culture of Chastity and Hijab to parliament in late May.

According to the proposed legislation, women and girls who appear without headscarves in public spaces and on social networks or who show “nakedness of a body part or wear thin or tight clothes” will face a range of penalties that will severely affect their human rights, including both social and economic ones.

The proposed penalties include financial fines, confiscation of cars and communication devices, driving bans, deductions from wages and employment benefits, dismissal from work, and a ban on access to banking services.

The bill also includes proposals to sentence women and girls convicted of violating headscarf laws “on a systematic basis or in collusion with foreign intelligence and security services” to prison terms of between two and five years, as well as a travel ban and forced residence in a particular location, AI reported.

On July 23, a parliamentary committee said that it had sent the revised draft law, consisting of 70 articles, to the full Iranian parliament for consideration, although the draft has not been made public, according to AI.

“The international community must not stand idly by as the Iranian authorities intensify their oppression of women and girls,” Callamard warned.

“All governments must do everything in their power to support women and girls fleeing gender-based persecution and serious human rights violations in Iran, ensure they can access swift and safe refugee procedures and under no circumstances should they be forcibly returned to Iran,” the AI chief concluded. EFE


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