In December 2017, a 31-year-old Iranian woman named Vida Movahed was arrested after she climbed on top of a telephone utility box in the middle of Tehran, removed her head scarf, and began waving it on a stick to protest the country’s strict hijab laws.
Her arrest inspired a wave of anti-government protests, and on Monday, pictures began to circulate on social media of other women waving their scarves in solidarity. More women have also filmed themselves in confrontations with people on the street about the issue.
According to the Los Angeles Times, at least one of these women protesting against compulsory headscarves and a person photographing her have been arrested.
Women in Iran have been forced to cover their heads and wear long, loose clothes in public since the 1979 revolution. Any woman caught not complying risks being fined or arrested. Recently, more and more women began pushing back against the restrictive law.
Younger and more liberal women have long pushed the boundaries of the country’s official dress code by wearing loose headscarves that don’t fully cover their hair and painting their nails.
Back in May, activist Masih Alinejad launched the #WhiteWednesday movement, encouraging women to post pictures of themselves wearing white on Wednesdays to protest the country’s strict dress codes. Movahed was arrested during a White Wednesday protest on December 27.
After her arrest, a social-media campaign called #Where_Is_She was launched to determine her whereabouts.
Nasrin Sotoudeh, one of Iran’s leading human-rights lawyers, later confirmed Movahed’s identity, and on Sunday she announced in a Facebook post that Movahed had been released and was back home.
“The message of these citizens is clear,” Sotoudeh said in response to the protests. “We, the women and girls, are fed up with this compulsory hijab. We want to manage our clothing and what to wear.”