Iranian women sentenced to jail for refusing to wear hijab

The image of Vida Movahedi holding her headscarf aloft on a stick at a protest became famous in Iran. The repeat offender will now be punished for "encouraging corruption and debauchery."

April 15, 2019 19:16
2 minute read.
Iranian women sentenced to jail for refusing to wear hijab

Azam Jangravi poses during an interview with Reuters, at the unknown location, February 7, 2019. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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She took her traditional hijab off her head and held it aloft on a stick in protest. Now, Vida Movahedi has been sentenced to one year in an Iranian jail for her act during the dramatic protests during the winter of 2017 - 2018.

The young woman's lawyer, Payam Derafshan, confirmed to AFP news an earlier statement he made to Iran's IRNA state news agency that his client was convicted of "encouraging corruption and debauchery" for breaking the law requiring women to wear the traditional headscarf.
This was not the first time Movahedi had engaged in protests and her act was imitated by several other young Iranian women who also face criminal charges for going bareheaded in public.

"The judge was very sympathetic to the fact that Ms. Movahedi has a two-year-old daughter and that she had not had a political motive for her actions," Derafshan told AFP.

She has been in jail for the past five months and has unsuccessfully sought parole.

The original protest took place in Enghelab Square in Tehran, Iran's capital city. The name means Revolution Street and Movahedi was dubbed Revolution Street Girl in Iranian media as a result. 

The protests were eventually quashed and the government subsequently organized massive pro-Iranian regime rallies. But dissent against the Islamic Republic continued. At one protest in June of 2018 some protesters could be heard chanting "Death to Palestine," "Help us, not Gaza," and "Leave Syria alone and deal with Iran," calling on the Iranian regime to invest in its own economy rather than interfering in other spheres throughout the Middle East.

Jangravi was one of at least 39 women arrested last year in connection with hijab protests, according to Amnesty International, which said another 55 people were detained for their work on women’s rights, including women who tried to enter football stadiums illegally and lawyers advocating for women.

Amnesty cited the case of Shaparak Shajarizadeh, who “was sentenced to 20 years in prison, 18 of which were suspended, for her peaceful protest against forced hijab. She fled Iran after she was released on bail and has since described in media interviews how she was subjected to torture and other ill-treatment in solitary confinement and denied access to her lawyer.”

Iran’s economy has faced instability in recent months, with the national currency, the rial, fluctuating in value, making it difficult for many Iranians to make ends meet.

Sporadic protests linked to the tough economic situation have been led by truck drivers, farmers, workers, merchants and teachers, occasionally resulting in violent confrontations with security forces.

Iran’s economy has been particularly hard hit by US sanctions that were reimposed November 5, after the United States withdrew from the 2016 Iran nuclear deal in May.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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