IMAGINE BEING ARRESTED FOR WEARING TOO MUCH MAKE-UP!
Think a woman’s fashion and beauty choices are her own discretion? Not in Iran, where bold lipstick or toe polish could land you in jail!
Afew months ago, Mana Davodi, 32, was arrested for ‘disturbing moral values’. Her crime? Having painted toenails and not wearing socks. “I felt awful and panicked, filled with anger,” she said in an interview with UK-based magazine, Look. “It’s harassment of an individual’s freedom and beliefs.”
Mana’s shocking story is hardly
I FELT DISRESPECTED AND INSULTED. I’M A GROWN WOMAN. I CAN DECIDE WHAT I CAN WEAR.
uncommon in Iran. As per the Basij, Iran’s ‘morality police’, you could be fined, arrested and even put behind bars for wearing as much as a bright lipstick or more eyeliner than usual. Unbelieveable, but a truth Iranian women deal with on a daily basis.
During the reign of Western- backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, women could pretty much wear whatever they liked (including swimsuits and short dresses). But after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, wearing the hijab (headscarf) became compulsory for Iranian women. Wearing boots with short pants,
hats or scarves which do not fully cover hair and neck, and putting on unusual make-up that contradicts public chastity became forbidden. Islamic religious establishments consider make-up to be contrary to hijab, which is in place so women are not viewed as sex objects. In December 2009, women were banned from wearing make-up on TV. Ezzatollah Zarghami, the media corporation in charge of controlling Iranian television broadcasting, was quoted by newspapers as saying that “make-up by women during television programmes is illegal and against Islamic sharia law. There should not be a single case of a woman wearing make-up during a programme.”
The Basij target and roam places like malls, where they’re on a look out for women wearing too much make-up, bright clothes, trousers, short coats, or hijabs that don’t cover their hair completely. These women are then taken away, questioned, fined or even sentenced to prison upto two months. In an interview with washingtonpost.com, 30-yearold Sahar said, “I felt disrespected and insulted. I’m a grown woman. I can decide what I can wear. I can make these decisions myself.” Sahar was arrested for wearing sleeves that went only to her forearms and didn’t cover her arms properly. Others have been arrested—and beaten—for not wearing socks or letting their hair show from under their scarf.
Things get worse in summer (when women are more likely to falter), and thousands of ‘moral police officers’ are employed to roam the streets and arrest those wearing ‘un-Islamic dress’. According to Tehran’s state media report, last year “53 coffee shops and 87 restaurants were shut down in Tehran for serving customers with improper hijab or for other gender-related offenses, such as permitting women to smoke hookah pipes.” The report said: “Nearly 80 stands at an international food fair were closed in June 2012
80 STANDS AT A FOOD FAIR WERE CLOSED AS THE WOMEN THERE WERE WEARING TOO
because the women working at them were either breaking hijab rules or were wearing too much make-up.”
Ironically, despite restrictions, Iranian women are among the world’s top 10 cosmetic buyers (most cosmetics available have been illegally imported). Iran has also been named among the leading ‘nose-job capitals’ in the world. Experts say these trends may have to do with Iran’s rich Persian culture and emphasis on beauty, art, and aesthetics. But it cannot be ignored that many young women are also challenging rules. The proof may lie in recent figures released by the Iranian police, which found that a whopping 80 percent of all the women arrested for ‘bad hejabi’ (or being improperly dressed) are under 15, making it clear that the young Iranian girl is pushing for her right to do—and look—as she pleases.
In Iran, attracting attention to yourself is frowned upon by
Make-up is big business in Iran