Young Iranian Women Are Protesting Compulsory Hijab Laws
A pixie cut is always chic, right? Millennials of the Western world are continuously trading in their long locks for something shorter, easier, perhaps even more stylish. And with summer approaching, it might be time to chop off some layers for cooling purposes.
However, on the other side of the globe, for women in Iran, trading in long locks goes far beyond looks. On Sunday night, the Iranian activist Facebook page My Stealthy Freedom reposted a photo of a woman donning a short haircut as well as pants, with the caption “I am an Iranian girl. In order to avoid the morality police, I decided to cut my hair short and wear men’s clothes so that I can freely walk in the streets of Iran.” The photo has since been liked over three thousand times, and shared by nearly 300 people.
In recent months, Iranian women online have been protesting against the cultural requirement of women donning the hijab. By Iranian law, women are required to start wearing the hijab in early childhood, covering their necks and heads, and must continue to wear it well into their adult life.
In early April, My Stealthy Freedom, a activist Facebook page run by journalist and activist Masih Alienjad, posted a video of several women walking in busy areas of Tehran, Iran with their heads uncovered, only to be shunned by public spectators. This political move has modified the way Iranian women have chose to go about their way of expressing personal freedom.
Alienjad recently spoke to The Independent, stating that, “Some girls in Iran would rather secretly dress as men to avoid the compulsory hijab and the morality of police. So that is why they make their hair short in order to look like a boy and dress like a boy.”
This cultural difference between a government’s beliefs and that of its citizens demonstrates the lengths women have to go to enforce progressive thinking in Iran’s public sphere. And in a nation where laws such as wearing the hijab are sectored by gender, the state of outspoken speech by a generation heavily involved in political issues is incredibly meaningful. While some women voluntarily wear the hijab, others see the demand that they wear it as a stake against personal freedom, and so they’re rising up against the political standard.
“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,” said Alinejad. “It is a serious cultural war between two lifestyles. For women, their hair is their identity and making it short to just avoid the morality police is really heartbreaking, but in a way, it is brave.”
Though shedding a part of one’s identity may be emotional, in Iran, the parallels between individual belief and sacrifice stand side by side. But for the country’s women, when it comes to expressing individualism and personal freedom, this could be an answer.
Images via My Stealthy Freedom and The Independent
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