Women defying hijab laws forced into psychiatric treatment
While healthcare organisations warn the country’s judiciary is hijacking psychiatric medicine for its own purposes, others cite the move as a sign of the government’s inability to enforce hijab laws.
In a symbolic act of defiance, Iranian actress Afsaneh Bayegan has repeatedly posted photos of her unveiled hair on Instagram, and recently attended a public ceremony without a hijab.
The move has irked Iran's authorities, who are looking for new ways to force women into covering their hair. Bayegan, 61, was given a two-year suspended prison sentence and ordered to visit a “psychological centre” once a week to “treat her anti-family personality disorder”, the country’s Fars News Agency reported on July 19.
Many Iranian women have chosen to start showing their hair since the death of Mahsa Amini in September 2022 after being detained by Iran’s morality police for “improperly” wearing her headscarf. Iranian celebrities, athletes and actresses have followed suit in solidarity.
“The sentence that [Bayegan] was given sets an example,” explains Azadeh Kian, an Iran specialist and professor of political science at Université Paris Cité. Bayegan was one of Iran’s first cinema stars after the Islamic Revolution in 1979 and is a respected figure on Iranian television.
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