As it stands, the hijab is mandatory for women in Iran, and if they are found without one they can face a fine and up to two months in prison. Following a trend set by Masih Alinejad, encouraging women to take pictures and videos of themselves without their hijabs on, women in Iran are facing up to 10 years imprisonment.
The hijab has been a topic of feminist controversy throughout my life. There are multiple camps on the issue: those who do not wear one because they emphasise its roots in female oppression, those who acknowledge this but now wear it through choice and respect for their own cultures, those who wear them to protect their own modesty. Regardless, the overarching feminist concern is choice; as with all feminist concerns, it all boils down to the woman’s individual choice. Whether that be to wear a skirt originally designed to enhance the sexual appeal of the female form, or a hijab designed to ensure only a husband can see their wife’s hair, the principle is the same: women should be able to wear whatever they choose, whatever they are comfortable in, because they want to, not because anyone else does.
This is yet another step by the Islamist Iranian regime to keep women down, to threaten Iranian women who even consider stepping out of line. Why? Because women are a powerful force. Controlling a population, maintaining power, is about how many people you can keep subjugated, and so often the first group that a targeted, and targeted hard, are women. By keeping 50% of the population down, threatening and punishing them for doing something as small as removing a headscarf, the Iranian government believe that they are preventing any larger form of uprising from their women. Restrict basic human rights, and there’s no chance of them fighting against anything more than that.
But they are wrong. The Iranian regime’s biggest mistake is their underestimation of women. Despite their threats, Iranian women continue to defy the regime, they continue to post hijab removal videos, they continue to dance, and they continue to fight against the myriad of daily injustices they face.
Western feminism cannot ignore the fight these women are leading. While we may be preoccupied with our own threats against our reproductive rights, our bodies, our representation across high-powered careers, we have to recognise that we would not be anywhere near the position we are in without having fought the injustices that Iranian women are once again up against. At the end of the day, we are all fighting the same fight; it is absolutely important that women have the right to do what we want with our own bodies, but we need to remember that women across the world are not permitted to leave the house without a male chaperone. This needs our attention.
In all circumstances, we are fighting for a woman’s right to have the same opportunities as any man, but we will never get there if all women are not considered. We must be as outraged and vocal about these unjust hijab laws as we have been about the abortion laws in America. We must remember how many of us there are, wanting the same thing, and how powerful we can be.