Bad Hair Day in Iran

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On May 15, an Iranian woman posted a picture of herself on the My Stealthy Freedom Facebook page outside without a hijab, after she shaved her head. Given that she had no hair, she argued that the morality police could not arrest her for failing to cover it.

Iranian woman are legally obliged to abide by strict modesty codes, or face arrest and harassment by the morality police.

“I sold my hair to support those adorable angels who suffer from cancer,” she wrote. “When I came to the street I told myself, ‘no hair, no morality police! There is no reason for those who always tell me to cover my hair or arrest me now'.” 

She was arrested shortly afterwards.

“The Iranian security forces have arrested on Monday, May 16, the Iranian woman under charges of violating sharia and public morals and is supposed to appear before the court in the next days or weeks,”  Kurdish reporter from Iran Samon Sardashti told Ara News. “This is not the first time that girls have been arrested for not honoring the laws covering the wearing of a hijab. Security forces are very aggressive in enforcing these laws.”

Iran is imposing restrictive laws about how women can dress and they are arresting everyone who doesn’t abide by these Sharia regulations.

Iranian police did not accept her explanation that having no hair exempts her from the legal obligation to wear hijab.

She was reportedly arrested along with 11 women arrested for similar offences.

Dressing Like Men

Other women have come up with another method of avoiding the morality police, disguising themselves as men.

They posted pictures of their civil disobedience online, in particular the My Stealthy Freedom page. One girl posted a picture of herself in men’s clothing and with short hair and the caption “I am an Iranian girl. In order to avoid the morality police, I decided to cut my hair short and wear men's clothes so that I can freely walk in the streets in Iran.”

My Stealthy Freedom is run by Masih Alinejad, an Iranian expatriate currently living in New York. It is a Facebook page on which Iranian women share pictures of themselves violating Iran’s hijab laws to fight against the discriminatory dress codes. It has nearly one million followers.

“Some girls in Iran would rather secretly dress as men to avoid the compulsory hijab and the morality police,” Alinejad said. “So that is why they make their hair short in order to look like a boy and dress like a boy.

“The Government wants to create fear but women have found their own way to freely walk in the streets of Iran or drive without covering their heads. It is a serious cultural war between two lifestyles. For women, their hair is their identity and making it short to just avoid the morality police is really heartbreaking, but in a way, it is brave.”

Another woman disguised herself as a boy in order to attend a soccer match and shared the video online.

For more information about Iran’s harsh modesty codes, see Clarion Project’s Special Report: Human Rights in Iran.

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

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