More than 500 arrests have been made in Tehran, Iran since December 29, 2017, as women who have been oppressed by the country’s mandatory dress code hold protests.
Since 1979, women in Iran have been forced to comply with a strict dress code that requires women to wear modest, loose clothing and headscarves, known as hijabs.
The Islamic Revolution in 1979 replaced the previous government with a conservative Islamic government, which led to a policy that forced women to either wear hijabs in public or face arrest.
Freshman Aishwarya Muppoor says, “It’s not fair that women in Iran have to follow a dress code. They should have the right to choose how to express themselves, and that includes wearing or not wearing a hijab.”
Iranians have opposed the law since it was first created, and protests against the hijab began again in late December around the same time that 2017 was declared “Year of the Woman.”
Freshman Audrey Chen says that the Iranian government “must. . . bring more equality to women. This starts with allowing them to have freedom in what they choose to wear.”
The dress code forbids women from wearing heavy makeup or nail polish while also requiring the wearing of hijabs. While women have protested this in various ways, one of the most prominent is through “My Stealthy Freedom.”
“My Stealthy Freedom” was started by Masih Alinejad in 2014 as an online social movement where Iranian women could post pictures of themselves without a hijab as a form of protest.
The hashtag #whitewednesdays, also created by Alinejad, allows women to post pictures of themselves wearing white – without a hijab, if they so choose. White is a symbol of protest against the compulsory wearing of hijabs that allows women to protest in public without fear of arrest.
Their fight for equality is mirrored by protests for women’s rights in America. America saw multiple women’s rights protests in 2017, many of which focused on sexual harassment. Protesters in the 2017 Women’s March wore pink hats while marching on Washington to protest Donald Trump becoming the president of the US.
The pink hats were worn at the march to bring special attention to sexual harassment. Specifically, they served as a reference to controversial statements made by President Donald Trump about women. Their pink color, traditionally associated with femininity, was meant to bring attention to how women of all shapes, races, and backgrounds are sexually harassed and discriminated against.
American protesters hoped to use pink as a way to empower women by supporting their womanhood instead of disparaging it.
Similarly, black was worn at the 2018 Golden Globes to protest against sexual harassment and inequality in entertainment. Many stars from Meryl Streep to Dwayne Johnson wore black at the event to show their support for ending discrimination against women.
By wearing certain colors or clothing, women in both Iran and America are protesting to raise awareness of how women are oppressed all over the world.
While these protests are occurring for different reasons on opposite sides of the globe, both are aimed at empowering women and ending oppression against them.
How do you think women in America can show their support for women in Iran?