Government Stifles Defiance of Iranian Dress Codes

In cities throughout Iran, governmental authorities have ordered a crackdown on women in lighter dress this summer. The conservative government, which came to power in February, has ordered that any woman seen defying the Iranian female dress code will be subject to fines, prison and even flogging. The BBC NEWS quoted one police chief as saying these alterations to dress are a source of “social corruption,” and warning that any woman doing so will be punished.

Iran’s interpretation of Islamic law regarding women’s dress dictates that women must wear the chador, a long, loose-fitting black cloak worn over clothing, and a head covering. In past summers, under a pro-reform government, Iranian women have modified these laws to suit their individual needs, wearing shorter, lighter colored coats, as the authorities turned a relatively blind eye. Summer temperatures even in northern cities such as the capital Tehran reach highs in the upper 90s, making the dark chador even more oppressive for women.

This hard-line approach is at odds with the many gains women have made since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Women currently make up 65 percent of university entrants in the country and play a large role in the public work force.

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BBC News 4/21/04; Feminist Majority Newswire 5/27/03; WomenÕs E News 4/21/04; Yahoo Weather 4/22/04

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