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Iranian Women protest the veil

Human Rights

A week later, a group of girls took off their hijabs in other parts of Tehran. More women, supported by men, soon joined the movement, dubbed with #Girls_of_Enghelab_Street on Twitter. At time of writing, 29 protestors had been detained.

‘The Islamic regime has succeeded in forcing women to wear the hijab. But Iranian women have never stopped fighting for their rights,’ says Noor (not her real name), a student who lives in Tehran. ‘And now, we have moved the protests from social media to the streets.’

Wearing the hijab has been mandatory since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and is seen by many as a tool of social exclusion: women are banned from sports stadiums, experience gender-segregation in certain universities and face education and employment restrictions.

Action against the mandatory hijab began last summer when exiled Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad encouraged women to post pictures of themselves on her Facebook page, ‘My Stealthy Freedom’, wearing white headscarves or white clothes using the hashtag #WhiteWednesdays.

Vida, and another protester, Narges Hosseini, are both accused of ‘committing a sinful act’ and ‘encouraging immorality or prostitution’. These charges carry sentences of up to 10 years. Narges has been in prison since 29 January, unable to pay bail set at $135,000.

‘More women like Vida and Narges will [make sacrifices] but this is only the beginning,’ says Noor. ‘Most politicians in Iran are silent about the protests. Those who have commented underestimate the bravery and the anger of the women who are taking part.’

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