“No Hejab or Bad Hejab”

The spokesman for Iran’s Judiciary has a definition of Hejab (Islamic dress code) that is only one of its kinds in the world. He says there is no difference between women with bad Hejab and the women who do not have any Hejab at all. And when the appearance of a person is clearly in violation of the law, the crime is evident, and the Islamic police will find authoritative ways to confront her.
The judiciary spokesman has demanded that society find a solution for the crisis. However, he has not offered any definition of “bad Hejab” himself. It seems that by issuing such general statements with clear cut definitions, he really negates what ever is left of Iranian women’s rights. The spokesman’s solution or sanction, is really allowing the police to make personal judgment and take the law into their hands without any judicial review. In short, he is allowing the police to mistreat women and create insecurity while the giant drug dealers and economic corruption that are high on Iran’s social ills, find haven and remain untouched.
The Islamic criminal code insists that not wearing Hejab in public is a crime and will lead to punishment. Regardless of whether obligatory Hejab is compatible with human rights, had the Islamic Republic of Iran provided a clear and logical interpretation of the Hejab law, things would not have come to a social crises. The world media too would not be so sensitive as to make judgments about the health of the Islamic Republic bases on what goes on in the streets.
The spokesman’s plea for society to find a solution for women’s Hejab seems out of bounds of its duties. He has also forgotten that he is not a spokesman for the Iranian people or society. Political parties, independent institutions as well as free press have the responsibility of speaking on behalf of the nation.
His attention is only those laws that are of his concern to him rather than those of concern to society.
This is a crisis turned into “national disaster” and the judiciary spokesman is threatening oppressed Iranian women. Compulsory hejab has been an issue for the regime since day one. While raising social costs of enforcing such laws, they have done nothing to improve conditions or satisfaction or even remove headaches in the international domain.
Mehrangiz Kar is an active attorney.

This article was originally published in Roozonline on August 29, 2005