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Iran proposes controversial bill on hijab-wearing with harsh punitive measures

The draft law, consisting of 70 articles, proposes longer prison terms for women who refuse to wear the veil.

Tehran, 2 Aug, 2023 (GNP): Iranian authorities have put forward a new bill on hijab-wearing that includes unprecedentedly harsh punitive measures, drawing attention from experts and human rights advocates.

The draft law, consisting of 70 articles, proposes longer prison terms for women who refuse to wear the veil and introduces stiff penalties for celebrities and businesses that flout the rules. Furthermore, the bill suggests using artificial intelligence (AI) to identify women in breach of the dress code.

The bill was submitted by the judiciary to the government for consideration and subsequently approved by the Legal and Judicial Commission. Experts see it as a warning that the Iranian regime remains resolute on the hijab issue, despite the mass protests witnessed last year.

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The proposed law has yet to be passed but is set to be submitted to the Board of Governors and later introduced on the floor of parliament, sources said.

This move comes in the aftermath of the Mahsa Amini protests, which sparked mass demonstrations. The bill aims to reassert the regime’s authority over veiling and women’s obligations regarding the hijab.

The changes in the leadership of the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force, the return of the morality police, and gender segregation in universities are all part of the broader attempt to enforce strict social and religious codes.

If passed, the bill would significantly escalate penalties for hijab violations, including prison sentences of five to ten years and hefty fines. The use of AI to identify offenders has raised concerns about privacy and surveillance. Business owners and celebrities would also face severe consequences, potentially including bans on international travel and social media activities.

Experts believe that parts of the legislation are likely to pass, considering most members of parliament are aligned with the regime. The bill will undergo review and approval by the Guardian Council, a 12-member body with considerable power, to ensure alignment with Islamic values and the Iranian constitution, reported by the sources.

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Human rights lawyer Hossein Raeesi expressed concerns that the new bill could “legalize illegal behavior” and potentially lead to more oppressive actions by Iranian security forces. Experts see this bill as a clear message to Iranians that leniency will not be tolerated.

As the situation unfolds, the eyes of the international community remain on Iran’s approach to human rights and personal freedoms, particularly with regards to women’s rights and the right to expression.