Restrictions on Islamic dress for women continue to tighten in Iran
(WNN) Tehran, IRAN: With an increased crackdown on regulations for conservative Islamic dress codes for women in Iran, female security officers, known as the ‘morality police’ have been told to step up their efforts to enforce what Tehran Police Chief Hossein Sajedinia says is “bad headscarves, bad dress, and model-type women in vulgar dress.”
Worries about women wearing seasonal summer dress in Tehran as the weather becomes warmer may be part of the problem that has caused worries that ‘less clothing’ means ‘less morals’ for women. Tightening of the dress code for women will be heralding more police surveillance of women at major intersections in Tehran. Security officials, as well as religious administrative leaders, who are intensifying and updating restrictions for women’s dress in the region are stating that the weather and the upcoming sessions in Iranian Parliament have brought an added push to the already existing policy on women’s dress in throughout the region.
The tightened p0licy conveyed by Police Chief Sajedinia also highlighted administrative concern that male “thugs” approaching women because of their dress may start to increase in summer months.
Current regulations against women’s dress in Iran include requirements that women, as well as all girls above the age of nine. must wear a long-sleeved tunic or coat that reaches to mid-thigh or knee as well as a headscarf (hijab) in public. In addition to this public restrictions outline that women must have their hair properly covered, which will restrict any hair that may slip out in the front of their headscarf.
In 1936, Iranian leader Rezā Shāh Pahlavi, on his eleventh year of leadership following a 1920 military coup, pushed for the modernization and ‘westernization’ of women’s dress in Iran. This policy toward modernization had been encouraged earlier by previous leaders. Rezā Shāh’s policy included doing away completely with all women’s hair coverings in an option to become more ‘westernized.’ In reaction, fundamental religious women, as well as Shia cleric leadership in Iran, were outraged.
In the spring of 1980 conservative Islamic dress came to Iran’s level of government as a new government was formed under Muslim Shia cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini announced that restricted dress would now become part of government mandates requiring women’s ‘modesty’ in public. At the same time government control of Iran’s banking industry and insurance companies, as well as other large business interests, became part of the norm in the region.
Today Muslim women worldwide inside and outside the region hold numerous contrasting ‘pro and con’ opinions about the controversial policy surrounding women wearing the hijab. Those who are more religious generally accept and approve the policy as they demand their rights to express their religion. Women who see themselves as ‘more progressive,’ inside and outside Iran, generally see the policy enforcing the hijab as an ‘affront’ to their freedom of choice as ‘required’ Islamic dress limits their choices, opportunity and human rights as women.
The crackdown on Islamic dress for women in Iran has occurred each year as the approaching warmer summer weather brings more people outside and the tendency for women to want to wear less bulky dress can become more apparent.
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