Silence from Women’s Rights Movement in the West While Iranian Women Risk Everything to fight against Mandatory Veiling.

One of the issues highlighted by the recent Iran protests was the mandatory veiling Iranian women have been subjected to by the Islamic Regime for over four decades.

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One of the issues highlighted by the recent Iran protests was the mandatory veiling Iranian women have been subjected to by the Islamic Regime for over four decades.  One of the first laws the Islamic Regime enforced was the compulsory hijab.  Despite nationwide protests by both women and men, the regime was able to impose mandatory hijab by using brutal force, arrests, imprisonment and lashings.

Even today not wearing the mandatory hijab or protesting against it is a criminal offence in Iran, with severe consequences. For over four decades Iranian women have been fighting against this oppressive law at every opportunity, knowing full well the implications for such defiance.

In May of 2017, the campaign of “White Wednesdays” commenced, and many Iranian women who opposed the mandatory veiling took off their headscarves in public and waived a white headscarf to raise awareness about Iranian women’s fight against this law.

Most recently during the Iran Protests, an iconic video surfaced with a young woman Vida Movahed standing on a public square without hijab and waiving a white scarf.   

Movahed was arrested for daring to defy the regime, and imprisoned for almost a month.  While she was recently released, another brave activist Narges Hosseini is currently in custody for protesting against the mandatory hijab laws. 

In the meantime, more and more pictures and videos of Iranian women taking off their hijab in public is surfacing on Facebook, Telegram and Twitter, showing signs that rebellion against the Islamic Regime and its oppressive laws may not be over.

It’s important to note the fight against mandatory hijab is not just about a piece of cloth, it’s about equal treatment of men and women under the law, about women receiving the same respect and dignity which is rightfully theirs, and most importantly their right to choose! 

Mandatory hijab laws only scratch the surface of Islamic Regime’s systematic oppression and persecution of women in Iran.

While Iranian women are risking everything to fight for their rights and freedoms, it has been disappointing to watch the lack of response and solidarity from women’s rights supporters in the West. 

In January of this year tens of thousands of women in U.S. and Canada joined the women’s march to speak out for women’s rights, yet there was no mention of millions of Iranian women risking their freedom to fight for their rights against an oppressive regime.

Perhaps most troubling is the lack of support from Justin Trudeau’s government, a government that claims to support women’s rights while at the same time sympathizing with a brutal regime that has been oppressing its female population for over four decades.  Trudeau’s silence during the Iran Protests and his lack of support for millions of women who are shouting “Time Is Up” to this Regime have not gone unnoticed. 

Here is hoping the women’s rights movement in the West will remember millions of women in the Middle East who are subjected to systematic inequality, discrimination and oppression by their governments. Hopefully, they will stand in solidarity with them in the fight for equality and human rights for all.


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Sayeh Hassan

Sayeh Hassan is a Toronto-based criminal defence lawyer, blogger, and an advocate for human rights and democracy in Iran.

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