Nearly one year ago, the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody sparked protests across Iran. The unrest triggered national protests which were met with brutal repression, leading to a number of deaths. So what’s happening in Iran one year on?
Just over a year ago Iran was rocked by the biggest protests in decades following the death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amin. She had been detained by Iran’s feared Morality Police accused of not wearing her hijab properly.
Eyewitnesses, including women who were detained with her, reported that she was severely beaten by the police and that she died as a result of her injuries. The Iranian authorities have always denied this.
In the protests that ensued the hijab became a symbol of resistance. Women cut their hair in the streets and burned their headscarves, while politicians and high profile celebrities showed their support.
A year on, what did the protests achieve?
All forms of opposition….were met with brutal repression by Iran’s regime. Students were thrown out of university or suspended, women were denied access to banking services, thousands arrested, and hundreds of businesses forcibly closed.
The “Hijab and Chastity” bill has also been drafted in response to the protests, consisting of 70 articles which include increased fines and jail time for those who don’t adhere to the dress code, and the use of AI to identify violators.
Across Iran, thousands of CCTV cameras and facial recognition technology have already been installed to identify women who aren’t dressed according to the law. And since April, more than one million women have received a text message warning them their vehicle could be confiscated after they were captured on camera not wearing a hijab while driving.
Under the bill, greater gender segregation in parks, universities and administrative centres will be enforced.
Celebrities and businesses are singled out and threatened with harsh penalties if they ignore the new rules.
Once the bill is approved by Iran’s Council of Guardians – the country’s most powerful legislative body – a three to five year trial will begin, before members of parliament make it permanent law.
The Iranian parliament launched Article 85 to avoid a backlash, meaning sessions reviewing the bill can be held behind closed doors. The new laws have been described by UN experts as a form of “gender apartheid”.