A woman in Tehran, Iran protested by taking off her hijab in public and then waving it as a flag to protest the mandatory Islamic dress code on December 29, 2017.
Several similar women have taken action against the strict Islamic dress code, which forces them not only to completely cover their hair, but also to always wear loose clothing in public and around non-relative males for modesty.
These women are taking a stand not only by taking off their hijabs, but also by wearing white on Wednesdays to follow a movement started by Iranian journalist and women’s rights campaigner, Masih Alinejad.
Freshman Samira Addams says, “The law they [the government] enforce is more of a show of power than trying to endorse the correct Islamic lifestyle. They’re somehow trying to keep women confined and convince them what they’re doing is wrong when it’s not.”
Iranian law has required women to follow an Islamic dress code since 1979. Since then, women who fail to do so can be arrested, though police in Tehran have recently announced that they will no longer arrest women, but instead force them to take mandatory Islam classes given by the police.
The action in Iran follows many protests here in the United States, particularly the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, who have taken a stand against injustice toward minorities.
In the past year, BLM has hosted many protests to bring awareness to the serious topic of racism.
The Black Lives Matter movement began about four years ago after the death of an unarmed black man, 18-year-old Michael Brown, at the hands of a white police officer. The injustice sparked outrage and grew into a national movement.
Similarly, the Women’s March took place on January 21, 2017 to advocate for women’s rights, as well as racial equality, immigration reform, and LGBT rights. An estimated 2.5 million people took part in marches all over the world, including Washington.
Some of the featured speakers included actress America Ferrera and well-known singer Madonna.
These protests bring issues to light and stress their importance in a way that has not been done before. As a result, many young people are finding themselves empowered to join movements that they are passionate about.
Freshman and organizer of sub-marches Vinisha Patel says, “We were extremely pleased to see many different genders, religions, and races participate in the various sub-marches we held. This shows that women’s rights are not just a female issue, but they are an issue for everyone regardless of their background and their beliefs.”
Similar marches led by women have been present throughout history, from the first march in 1913 that gave women the right to vote to the March for Women’s Lives in 2004 to advocate for reproductive rights.
As the protests in Iran join the movements taking place here in the United States, many voices are rising in countries around the world in order to fight for their rights and let their grievances be known.
How would you try to change your situation if you were facing the same oppression that Iranian women are facing?