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Press briefing notes Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Iran: Crackdown on hijab law

26 April 2024

Two Iranian women wearing mandatory headscarves stand on the southern coast of the Caspian Sea in Mazandaran province, 235 km (146 miles) north of Tehran, July 14, 2023. © Morteza Nikoubazl / NurPhoto / NurPhoto via AFP


Spokespeople for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Jeremy Laurence



We have received information that uniformed and plainclothes police in Iran are enforcing a violent crackdown throughout the country against women and girls under the country’s strict hijab laws – as well as men supporting them. We have received reports of widespread arrests and harassment of women and girls - many between the ages of 15 and 17.

On 21 April, the Tehran head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) announced the creation of a new body to enforce existing mandatory hijab laws, adding that IRGC members have been trained to do so “in a more serious manner” in public spaces. Reports indicate that hundreds of businesses have been forcibly closed for not enforcing compulsory hijab laws, and surveillance cameras are being used to identify women drivers not complying with the laws. 

Our Office is also very concerned that a draft bill on "Supporting the Family by Promoting the Culture of Chastity and Hijab" – which imposes even stricter punishments– is nearing final approval by the Guardian Council.

While the latest draft of the bill has not been made public, an earlier version stipulates that those found guilty of violating the mandatory dress code could face up to 10 years’ imprisonment, flogging, and fines. Corporal punishment constitutes a form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and any detention, imposed for the exercise of fundamental freedoms, is arbitrary under international law. We reiterate that this bill must be shelved. 

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk calls on the Iranian Government to eliminate all forms of gender-based discrimination and violence, including through the revision and the repeal of harmful laws, policies and practices, in line with international human rights norms and standards.

This week, we also received reports that the Isfahan Revolution Court sentenced to death rapper, Toomaj Salehi. He was convicted and sentenced for “corruption on earth” over views he expressed in the context of nationwide protests in 2022 following the death of Jina Mahsa Amini. Mahsa Amini had fallen into a coma in police custody, after being detained by the morality police for not wearing a headscarf properly.

The High Commissioner urges the authorities to overturn Toomaj Salehi’s sentence, and calls for his immediate and unconditional release. All individuals imprisoned for exercising their freedom of opinion and expression, including artistic expression, must be released.

Nine men have already been executed in connection with the 2022 protests.

The High Commissioner urges the Iranian Government to immediately halt the application of the death penalty and establish a moratorium on its use. Until then, the death penalty may only be imposed for the “most serious” crimes, which refers to crimes of extreme gravity that result intentionally and directly in death.

For more information and media requests, please contact:

In Geneva
Jeremy Laurence - +41 22 917 9383 / [email protected] or
Ravina Shamdasani - +41 22 917 9169 / [email protected]

In Nairobi
Seif Magango - +254 788 343 897 / [email protected]

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