A prominent Iranian actress was given a suspended sentence of 74 lashes after shaking hands and kissing a young male actor on the cheek at an awards ceremony last September. According to the Associated Press, Gowhar Kheirandish violated the strict Islamic laws of Iran, which ban physical contact in public between unrelated or unmarried man and women.
The suspended sentence means that the actress, who is in her fifties, will receive the 74 lashes only if she commits a second offense. Kheirandish described the kiss as a motherly gesture towards a student of her late husband, according to Reuters. However, the incident sparked protests by local religious leaders. Filmmaker Kioumars Pourahmad told AP that the punishment is “disgusting, ridiculous … Such verdicts only create hatred and further harm Iran’s international image.”