Iran's health minister has warned that private health centers will lose their accreditation if women employees do not abide to the Islamic Republic’s mandatory hijab rules.
Bahram Einullahi issued the warning in an interview with the semi-official Fars news agency on February 7, amid more than four months of nationwide protests demanding more freedoms and women’s rights.
In Iran, all women and girls over the age of nine must conceal their hair with a headscarf while in public and wear loose fitting trousers under their coats.
Since the eruption of the protest movement, a growing number of Iranian women have appeared in public without the mandatory headscarf. Some of them have been arrested or summoned by the authorities.
Meanwhile, businesses, restaurants, cafes and even pharmacies have been sealed for owners and managers failing to observe Islamic laws and mandatory hijab rules.
"Government centers have been instructed to observe hijab rules, and refusing to do so is a violation" of the law, Einullahi told Fars.
"If a private center does not observe cultural rules, including regarding the hijab, they won’t receive the necessary points for accreditation. A hospital will not be approved if its female employees don’t observe hijab rules," the minister added.
He also said he had instructed hospitals that only female staff should treat women.
Iranian authorities have unleashed a brutal crackdown on the anti-government demonstrations sparked by the September death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of morality police. Amini had been arrested for allegedly wearing a hijab improperly.
The security forces have killed more than 500 people, including dozens of children, and detained over 19,000, human rights activists say. Following biased trials, the judiciary handed down stiff sentences, including the death penalty, to protesters.