In Iran, it’s a crime for women to appear in public with their hair uncovered. Yasaman Aryani, a 24-year-old activist, wanted to change this. She’s been sentenced to 16 years in prison for campaigning against forced veiling.
It was International Women’s Day 2019 when Yasaman and her mother took off their headscarves and walked through a women-only train carriage in Tehran, handing out flowers. Yasaman spoke of her hopes for a future when all women would have the freedom to choose what to wear, “me without the hijab and you with the hijab”. After a video of this went viral, Yasaman was arrested and charged with “inciting and facilitating corruption and prostitution" through promoting “unveiling”.
After the authorities held Yasaman in solitary confinement and threatened to arrest her family if she didn’t “repent”, they sentenced her to 16 years in prison. She is required to serve 10 years of this sentence.
Yasaman’s cruel punishment is part of a wider crackdown on women campaigning against discriminatory forced veiling laws in Iran. The Iranian authorities must not be allowed to rob Yasaman of the best years of her life – simply because she believes women should have the right to choose what they wear.
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