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Women Remove Headscarves in Protest Against Iran's First National 'Chastity Day'

July 12, 2022
Women have shared images and videos online of their individual protests against forced hijab in Iran
Women have shared images and videos online of their individual protests against forced hijab in Iran

Iranian women and girls were seen removing their hijabs in public on Tuesday in defiance against the government’s “Hijab and Chastity Day”, which aimed to promote the misogynist mandatory veiling policy.

Over the past week activists and rights activists at home and in the diaspora had called for the state-enforced day to be turned on its head and converted into a day of action, “No to Hijab Day”.

Videos posted on social media on Tuesday indicated that at least some women had heeded the call, burning shawls and scarves on camera or walking unveiled in the streets. In some cases they were accompanied by male supporters or rode bicycles, which the authorities have tried to ban in religiously-important cities like Mashhad.

The Persian-language hashtag "#Hijab_Without_Hijab" has been trending in Iran for several days now, accumulating tens of thousands of tweets in support of women’s personal and civic freedoms. Some also did away with the manteaux, a long outer garment they are encouraged by conservatives to wear in order to cover their upper bodies and legs.

Some images have also been posted online appearing to show new graffiti in different Iranian cities, including the slogans “Hijab Without Hijab” and “Women are Awake, Let’s Get Rid of Hijab”.

Regime-opposed figures outside of Iran also backed the drive in large numbers. In a message on Monday, Prince Reza Pahlavi asked Iranian men to stand “side by side with women on the front lines of this struggle”.  

Over the past three weeks the Iranian authorities have run an intensified crackdown on women’s dress and behavior in public, including via the morality patrols, closures of mixed venues and in Friday sermons. The reason for this is unclear but far from cowing people, it appears to have galvanized support for the women’s rights movement in Iran.


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