PHOTO GALLERY: The Hijab Protests

Women across Iran challenged the government by refusing to wear the mandatory headscarf during the year after nationwide protests erupted in September 2022. For months, women and girls removed and burned their headscarves in outrage over Mahsa Amini’s death in detention for “improper hijab.” The regime violently suppressed the demonstrations, but it still faced festering social challenges.  

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By the end of 2022, the morality police—responsible for enforcing the mandatory dress code—had largely receded from view. Even as protests died down, women continued to forego the hijab in a symbolic act of resistance that became increasingly common, particularly in cities. Women went about their daily lives – in markets, restaurants, the metro, museums, and other public places – unveiled.  

In March 2023, judiciary chief Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei reaffirmed the regime’s position on the dress code. “Removing one’s hijab is equivalent to showing enmity to the Islamic Republic and its values,” he said. People who defy the government and “commit this sin that harms public order” would be punished, Ejei warned. Thousands of women across Iran reportedly walked around in public without a hijab each day by April. 

During the spring and summer of 2023, the government attempted to enforce the hijab through less confrontational means, including utilizing cameras for public surveillance and sending text warnings to violators. It shut down businesses for serving unveiled women, for example. In July, the government doubled down and redeployed the morality police, which sparked renewed resistance against the mandatory hijab. 

Tensions festered ahead of the mid-September anniversary of Amini’s death. Women continued to appear in public without headscarves. And Parliament was considering new legislation that would impose harsher restrictions on women who violated the dress code.  

After the 1979 revolution, the new theocracy required females to cover their hair with a hijab and dress modestly from the age of puberty. Violators could face prison sentences, fines or lashes. But enforcement has varied widely since then. In practice, many women, especially in cities, started wearing scarves that barely covered their hair. But President Ebrahim Raisi, a hardliner, has pushed for stringent enforcement of the Islamic dress code since he took office in 2021. The following are pictures and videos of Iranian women in public without the compulsory hijab. 


September 2023

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August 2023


July 2023


May 2023


April 2023


March 2023


February 2023


January 2023


November 2022


October 2022


September 2022