A group of UN experts has expressed “shock” over the death of Armita Geravand, a 16-year-old Iranian girl who was hospitalized after collapsing on a subway in Tehran last month following an altercation about failing to wear a headscarf.
In a statement on November 2, the eight experts called for an “independent, prompt and impartial” investigation into Armita’s death and said that women and girls “should not be punished for wearing or not wearing any specific piece of clothing, and should certainly not be at risk of losing their lives for doing so.”
Armita fell, unconscious, in a metro station on October 1. She was taken to a hospital where she remained in a coma for 28 days.
The authorities said the high school student had fallen and injured her head after suffering a sudden drop in blood pressure, but reports strongly suggest that she was physically assaulted by a hijab enforcement officer.
The UN experts reiterated their concerns about the imposition by the Islamic Republic of a dress code on women and girls and the use of “excessive and unlawful force” against those who do not comply.
“We remain concerned and alarmed by the ongoing policies and practices in Iran which amount to total impunity for acts of gender persecution against women and girls, and urge the Government to put an end to them,” the statement said.
The experts also expressed “grave concern and disappointment” at the authorities’ failure to conduct independent investigations into the deaths of women and girls during the monthslong nationwide protests that followed the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini in September 2022.
Amini had been detained for allegedly wearing a head covering improperly.
“We are aware of reprisals against other women, including celebrities, for refusing to comply with the mandatory dress code,” the statement said, adding that some women “have lost their jobs or been sentenced to jail, while others have been ordered to perform forced labour.”
The experts urged the authorities to amend the constitution, repeal gender discriminatory laws and “abolish all regulations and procedures whereby women’s dress or behaviour in public or private life are monitored or controlled by State authorities, and introduce laws and policies to ensure full equality for women and girls in public affairs.”