Since Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979, women living in the country have been enforced to wear a hijab — a head covering scarf worn by some Muslim women — by the nation’s so-called “morality policy.” The current agency in charge of enforcing this policy is a group supported by the Basij militia called the Gasht-e Ershad, which translates to “Guidance Patrols” in Persian. Women who are caught or accused of being in violation, or even just wearing a “bad hijab,” face punishment varying from fines to imprisonment.
Now, men in the country are showing their support for women forced to live in observance of the hijab (e.g. not displaying their skin, covering their bodies, wearing minimal makeup) by wearing veils themselves. The entire movement is the result of New York-based Iranian activist and journalist Masih Alinejad, who asked men to show their solidarity against the mandated hijab as part of her campaign.
“In our society, a woman’s existence and identity is justified by a man’s integrity, and in many cases the teachings of a religious authority or government officials influence a man’s misguided sense of ownership over women,” Alinejad told The Independent. “So I thought it would be fantastic to invite men to support women's rights.”
Alinejad’s Facebook campaign, called My Stealthy Freedom and has over one million followers, showcases images of women without their hijab in public settings. In her call for support to men, Alinejad asked men to use the #meninhijab hashtag to share pictures of themselves wearing a hijabs while their wife and female relatives pose without one.
“Most of these men are living inside Iran and they have witnessed how their female relatives have been suffering at the hands of the morality police and humiliation of enforced hijab," said Alinejad.
Women in Islam have the option to wear a hijab, which is a symbol of modesty and dignity. Some women choose to wear it; others don’t. The issue in Iran, and a handful of other nations, is the enforcement where they take away a woman’s right to choose if she wears one or not.
Earlier this year, it was reported that women are resorting to shaving their hair and dressing up as men in Iran to freely appear in public.
“Some girls in Iran would rather secretly dress as men to avoid the compulsory hijab and the morality police,” Alinejad told The Independent. “So that is why they make their hair short in order to look like a boy and dress like a boy.
Women in Iran who oppose the compulsory hijab have taken steps to push back on the law. After authorities warned women from driving without a hijab, women took to social media to post videos of themselves driving without a headscarf.
“Women in Iran are breaking the law every day just to be ourselves,” said Alinejad to The New York Times.