Al-Arabia – In the course of history, women’s clothing has always been one of the first issues that have been exploited by various ideological systems, and the body of women has been an ideologi-cal battleground between the conflicting fronts. Although the issue of men’s clothing is not entirely exempted from dress codes restrictions, it does not reach the level of restrictions that women experience.
By Shima Silavi
In the years before the fall of the Shah, some women appeared publicly in hijab to display their opposition with the present ideology.
In fact, the veil symbolized a political message, but after the fall of the Shah’s regime, one of the continuing challenges faced by Iran was enforcing compulsory veil in the country.
At that time, even the groups that considered themselves to be a part of the elite sector of society did not oppose Khomeini’s actions, and clearly did not support the demonstrations and activities of women, and regarded the protests as an imperialist plot. Hijab laws protect the government and it has reached a point in which every citizen who believes in the ideology of the system allow themselves to interfere in the privacy of others.
According to law, women can only be present in public if her body is covered within the limits of the prescribed standards, otherwise she will be prosecuted. In addition, anyone from the police all the way down to ordinary citizens are given the right to remark and counter women who do not follow the dress code standards.
An example of this collision can be seen in a video that was published recently. The video shows a woman named Fatemeh Azarfard physically attacking a woman who is sitting in her car without a veil. After its circulation in cyberspace, the film prompted a public outcry against such violent encounters.
But contrary to the reaction of the Iranian people, authorities honored Fatima Azar Fard at a ceremony to prove that in Iran, systematically and legally, women have no right to choose their type of clothing.
Despite a lot of investments in promoting hijab in Iran and resorting to coercive ways to accept it, a study by the Centre for Strategic Studies indicates that these efforts are fruitless. According to the survey, in recent decades, Iranian citizens have seriously changed the concept of compulsory veil, and about half of Iranians believe hijab is a “private” issue.
In addition, while in 2006 half of the statistical community participating in the survey believed that it was necessary to legally prosecute people without hijab, in 2014 the percentage dropped down to 39%.
What makes these statistical findings even more significant is that according to a report by the Strategic Centre, in 1974, just four years before the Islamic Revolution, three-quarters of men preferred their wives to wear hijab, and only seven percent had a tendency to have wives without hijab.
The results of another poll, “Opposing or agreeing on compulsory hijab”, conducted by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance in 2015, shows that 78.3% of the total population of the country are in favor of optional hijab and only 21.7% support compulsory hijab.
The way people choose to cover and dress themselves results from a mixture of factors that involve religion, culture, tradition and the environment but when the state abuses its power to change the natural course of development in society, it is no longer a cultural production, instead entering the ideological and political field.
In contrast, with what happened before the revolution, women now demonstrate their opposition to the system and the governing rules by removing hijab. This should not be interpreted in the narrow context, but on a larger scale, as a strong front for struggle for freedom and justice.