In Iran, a woman named Roya Heshmati was whipped 74 times for violating public morals by posting a photo with her head uncovered by the Iranian judiciary.
“The convicted Roya Heshmati encouraged permissiveness by appearing disgracefully in busy public places in the capital city of Tehran,” the judiciary Mizan Online Website said late on January 6, 2024. “Her penalty of 74 strokes of the lash was carried out in accordance with the law and Sharia and for violating public morals,” Mizan said.
A Kurdish Human Rights organization called Hengaw has identified Heshmati as a woman of Kurdish origins, who is a fierce outspoken critic of the Islamic theocracy Hijab law. Talking to an Iranian media agency, a popular reformist newspaper, Heshmati’s lawyer Maziar Tatai said that the woman was arrested in April 2023 for publishing a photo on the social media without wearing the headscarf. She was also ordered to pay a fine of 12 million rials (around $525) for not wearing the Muslim veil in public.
Tatai as per Entekhab, also alleged that the charges against Heshmati were changed several times. Throughout the process at different times, she was charged with “propaganda against the regime.” Being in streets without a religious hijab, harming public modesty, producing vulgar content and encouraging people to commit corruption.
Courage and Defiance
The defiant woman as per a Jewish media agency, removed the hijab upon entering the court where her flogging was scheduled to take place. Even though her lawyer and employee cautioned her and asked her to don the headscarf to avoid trouble, Heshmati said she “specifically came for the lashes and I would not yield.”
She was even ordered by the officer who was designated to lash her. However, despite the threats of more severe whipping, and an additional 74 lashes, Heshmati refused to do so. She said “I maintained my stance and did not wear the hijab, she said as per an account of the flogging shared by Hengaw. She described the room where she was flogged as a fully equipped medieval torture chamber.
Government Crackdown and Religious Laws
All women in Iran have been required by the law to cover their head and neck shortly since the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Whippings for breaching the dress code are uncommon in Iran although officials have increasingly cracked down on those defying rules after the practice surged during anti-government protests that began since 2022. On the other hand, beating and lashing women who defy the traditional dress code is common in its neighboring state, Afghanistan.
Protests in Iran have catapulted after the death of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman named Mahsa Amini died in the moral police custody called Gasht-e-Ershad. In the protests, the female demonstrators cast off their headscarves and even burned them. Other women also began to increasingly flout the dress code leading to crackdown.