Ten months after the death of Mahsa Amini, which sparked mass protests, Iranian authorities have resumed the enforcement of dress code regulations, including the mandatory wearing of hijabs for women. The protests were a response to the death of Amini, who was held in custody for allegedly wearing an “improper” hijab and subsequently died in hospital. The protests saw women and girls burning their headscarves or waving them in the air, and many have since stopped covering their hair in public altogether.
Under Iranian law, women are required to cover their hair with a hijab and wear loose-fitting clothing. The enforcement of these rules has historically been carried out by special police units known as the Guidance Patrols. However, authorities attempted to enforce the dress code through other measures while the patrols were paused, but these efforts have been met with defiance on social media and in the streets.
In response to the protests and the defiance of dress code regulations, authorities installed surveillance cameras to identify individuals not complying with the rules and closed businesses that turned a blind eye to dress code violations. There have also been reports of individuals taking enforcement into their own hands, with instances of harassment and violence against women who do not wear hijabs.
On Sunday, police spokesman Saeed Montazerolmahdi confirmed the resumption of morality police patrols across the country. He warned that those who disobey the dress code regulations will face legal action and be referred to the judicial system. However, there is skepticism among some Iranians that the authorities will be able to impose the dress code as strictly as before, citing the high number of people who no longer comply.
The resumption of patrols has faced criticism from various quarters, with concerns about potential chaos in society and the widening gap between the people and the state. Social media has also been filled with condemnation of the move, along with the arrest of actor Mohammad Sadeqi, who had called on women to defend themselves against the morality police. Sadeqi was detained by plainclothes security forces after live-streaming a raid on his home.
The enforcement of dress code regulations in Iran has long been a contentious issue, and recent events have highlighted the ongoing tension between authorities and those who oppose the strict rules. The resumption of patrols and the backlash it has generated indicate the continued struggle over personal freedoms and the societal divide within Iran.