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Videos Shed Light On 'Violent Assaults' On Iranian Women Over Dress Code

Iranian policemen warn a woman about her clothing and hair during a crackdown to enforce the Islamic dress code in Tehran.
Iranian policemen warn a woman about her clothing and hair during a crackdown to enforce the Islamic dress code in Tehran.

Videos shared on social media recently have demonstrated the "shocking levels of abuse" women in Iran face from morality police and pro-government "thugs" seeking to enforce the country's strict dress code, Amnesty International says.

"Iran's forced hijab laws are not only deeply degrading and discriminatory, they are also being used to justify violent assaults on women and girls in the streets," Philip Luther, the London-based human rights watchdog's Middle East and North Africa research and advocacy director, said in a statement on March 12.

The statement said that women in Iran were "routinely stopped in the street at random by morality police, who insult and threaten them, order them to pull their head scarves forward to hide strands of hair, or give them tissues to wipe off their make-up."

They are also physically assaulted, including by being "slapped in the face, beaten with batons, handcuffed, and bundled into police vans," it added.

The statement mentions a video posted online last month in which a woman films a confrontation that she says began after a pro-government vigilante ordered her to wear her hijab properly. The man is seen hurling insults at the woman and, when she objects, he turns around and sprays her in the face with what appears to be pepper spray.

Another clip shows a man insulting and ordering a woman to put on her head scarf. The woman is heard screaming about his threat to fire a stun gun at her and the man says: "I did not fire at you. I only showed it to you."

A third video shows a plainclothes man standing next to a morality-police van and aiming a gun at men and women who have intervened to stop the violent arrest of a woman who is not wearing a head scarf.

Amnesty Internal said these incidents were filmed as part of the My Camera My Weapon campaign aimed at raising awareness of the daily harassment and assault that women and girls in Iran face as a result of forced-hijab laws.

The videos were posted on Instagram by exiled Iranian journalist and women's rights activist Masih Alinejad, who is based in the United States.

"These brutal assaults targeting women and girls are a violation of their right to be protected from cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment under international law," Luther said. "Millions of Iranian women are being denied the right to be treated with dignity and to go about their daily lives without fearing violence or harassment."

Women's dress has been heavily scrutinized in Iran since the 1979 revolution, when adherence to an Islamic dress code became compulsory.

The dress code dictates that women's hair and body must be covered in public.

Morality police launch regular crackdowns on those who are not fully respecting rules relating to the hijab.

Viral Video: Iranian Woman Seized For Not Wearing Hijab
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