TEHRAN : The public has raised banner of protest and condemned forced confession of a women for clothing what the Iranian authorities has termed as “improper”. There is wide condemnation from various quarters after an Iranian woman who was arrested for defying newly hardened hijab laws appeared on state television and narrate the tale of torture for forced confession.
Sepideh Rashno, 28, was arrested in July soon after footage of her being harassed on a bus over “improper clothing”, was circulated online. Rashno, a writer and artist, is among a number of women arrested after the introduction of a national “Hijab and Chastity Day” on 12 July.
According to the Hrana human rights group, she was taken to hospital with internal bleeding shortly after her arrest and before her appearance on television.Iranian women have been required to wear the hijab in public since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but president Ebrahim Raisi signed an order on 15 August to enforce the country’s dress code law with a new list of restrictions, reports the Guradian.
According to Hrana, which says forced confessions are on the rise in Iran, five women were arrested for not observing the dress code, and four were forced to confess, in the days before and after 12 July. They also reported that three women were arrested for dancing in public, 33 hairdressing salons were shut down and 1,700 people were summoned to law enforcement centres for reasons related to the hijab.
After her arrest, Rashno appeared on state television on 30 July, wearing a headscarf, to give an apology. In the footage, Rashno looks pale and subdued, and has dark circles around her eyes. “There were clear signs of physical beatings on her face,” said Skylar Thompson, of Hrana. “It is clear that in addition to the psychological torture of being coerced into confessing, she has been physically beaten.”
As per news reports, Masih Alinejad, a journalist, activist and dissident, described the arrests as an “act of terror”. Alinejad spearheaded the White Wednesday movement, which began in 2014 and encouraged women to wear white and discard their headscarves. She was the target of a kidnap attempt in 2021 and last month a man with a rifle was arrested outside her house in New York.
Prof Ali Ansari, a specialist in Middle Eastern politics at St Andrews University, said the tightening of hijab rules was part of a “systematic wider pattern of repression” within Iran that had worsened in the year since the election of Raisi in August 2021.