In response to an increasing backlash by Iranian women against the forced wearing of the hijab, the Islamic Republic has now established as many as 2,000 new morality police units to monitor the mandatory wearing of the religious headdress.
Women for Change reported last year on the rise of women protesting the compulsory wearing of the hijab within Iran. Hundreds of women were arrested and some imprisoned for contravening this religious law, most famously Shaparak Shajarizadeh who said she had been jailed for "opposing the compulsory hijab" and "waving a white flag of peace in the street," as she described in a personal post at the time. Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent human rights lawyer, was sentenced last May to seven years in prison after defending the protesters.
In February last year, police in Iran arrested 29 women for removing their headscarves as part of a campaign known as "White Wednesdays" – which encourages women to wear white and discard their hijabs much to the chagrin of the authorities. Pictures of women standing silently with their heads uncovered and holding aloft the veil at the end of a pole went global.
And clearly to deal with this increasing momentum, Iran has now had to introduce morality police, which are “resistance groups for verbal and practical response to bad-hijabi women,” the Telegraph UK reported.
Iran’s police have also gone as far as recently installing special cameras on the country’s highways to take photos of female drivers who remove their hijab once they leave the town centres, The Telegraph revealed.
But both worryingly and vexingly, these special morality units are each made up of six women who have the power to arrest and detain those women they perceive to be contravening Iran’s rigid veiling laws.
According to the Telegraph report, a recent study by Iran’s parliament showed that up to 70 per cent of the female population would like to see the relaxing of laws on the mandatory wearing of headscarves, while 30 per cent accepted it as part of the national culture.