Culture war

Women in Iran dressing as men to avoid run-ins with morality police

An Iranian policewoman (L) warns a woman about her clothing and hair. (Majid Saeedi/Getty Images)

As hardliners in Iran clamp down on enforcement of the compulsory headscarf for women, some women there are cutting their hair and dressing like men when venturing out into public to avoid crossing paths with the country’s morality police. The situation has grown dicier in recent weeks with the launch of an undercover police unit that many fear is out on the streets with the express mission of enforcing the headscarf. And just last week, one Iranian model made a televised apology in court after she was arrested, along with seven others, for posting photos of herself on Instagram not wearing a hijab.

Masih Alinejad, who appeared onstage at the Women in the World New York Summit last month to talk about Iran’s oppressive culture toward women, has posted photos, like the one below, on her My Stealthy Freedom Facebook page of women who have cut their hair and donned masculine attire in order to move around freely in public without wearing a hijab.

Pejman Rebhar, the editor in chief of a popular sports website in Iran posted a photo of a woman attending a soccer game in Iran without wearing a headscarf. The woman is seen painted in her team’s colors. According to a translation by The Independent, Rebhar said in the message posted with the photo that “These two different people have encouraged their team the same way and shown the same enthusiasm for their own victory. The efforts of the girl, who had hidden her gender by donning the colors of her team, were very much worth seeing though.”

Alinejad spoke to The Independent about the recent phenomenon. “Some girls in Iran would rather secretly dress as men to avoid the compulsory hijab and the morality police,” Alinejad explained. “The government wants to create fear but women have found their own way to freely walk in the streets of Iran or drive without covering their heads. It is a serious cultural war between two lifestyles.” And it’s a culture war that recent events suggest is only escalating. Earlier this month, hardliners blocked Minoo Khaleghi, a woman reformer who won big in February’s election, from assuming office over photos that surfaced of her not wearing a hijab while vacationing in foreign countries. She was reportedly ordered to appear in court to answer the charges against her.

Read the full story at The Independent.


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