A woman taking part in the #WhiteWednesdays campaign to protest the mandatory dress code took off her hijab and stood alone, waving it defiantly in the air in Tehran, Iran on December 27, 2017. The woman was later arrested, but has become a symbol of hope for women who are fighting for their rights.
Thousands of Iranian women are insisting on the release of the unnamed protestor. Many people on social media have also supported and acknowledged the woman’s bravery.
Women have protested against wearing a hijab in public since 1979, just after the Iranian revolution. On March 7, 1979, the Iranian government announced that women would be required to wear headscarves when going to work. To show their objection, women did not go to work on the next day, which was International Women’s Day. Hundreds of thousands of Iranian women went on strike and marched in the streets of Tehran.
On the same day as the unknown woman’s arrest, Tehran announced that women whose head covering had fallen off accidentally in public will no longer be arrested and taken to detention centers or fined, but instead will be forced to attend Islam educational classes.
The change of consequences for women not wearing the proper headwear is a drastic change for Iranian women as they have been fighting for more than 40 years. Protests can be dangerous, as many women protesting are thrown in jail or even killed.
Freshman Krisha Shah says, “As American citizens, we are able to express our beliefs, opinions, etc. freely through what we wear, and we are not restricted in any form. We are able to wear what we please as long it does not affect anyone. Living in America, I am not forced to wear clothes based on a specific dress code, unlike the women in Iran.”
The American rules for clothing and expression are vastly different from Iran’s rules. American citizens have minimal constraints; one can express themselves freely. Meanwhile, women in Iran must follow a strict dress code without any freedom and cannot express themselves.
Sophomore Gianna Matteisch says, “One of my values and morals in this country is based upon freedom and the freedom of expression; America was founded based on these rights. Without expressing oneself by clothing and other forms, there is no freedom of expression.”
Women cannot express themselves in Iran, but thousands of women like the one who took off her hijab in public are fighting for the freedom of expression every day.
How would you react if you did not have the freedom of expression, or a strictly enforced dress code?