Iran’s bill enforces harsh hijab penalties and incorporates AI for monitoring.
Iranian authorities are gearing up to introduce a new bill on hijab-wearing, just weeks before the one-year commemoration of major protests triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini. This legislation, as reported by CNN, has garnered apprehension from experts who believe it could establish exceedingly stringent penalties.
The comprehensive 70-article proposal outlines a series of measures, including notably extended prison sentences for women declining to wear the veil, stricter penalties for celebrities and businesses flouting regulations, and the utilisation of artificial intelligence for detecting violations of the dress code.
Initiated by the judiciary, the bill underwent consideration by the government earlier this year before progressing to parliament and gaining approval from the Legal and Judicial Commission. A report from the state-aligned news agency Mehr indicates that the bill is scheduled for submission to the “Board of Governors” this Sunday, followed by its introduction for parliamentary deliberation. Iranian parliamentarians are projected to finalise and vote on the bill over the course of the next two months.
The hijab has historically been a contentious issue in Iran, experiencing a prohibition in 1936 before its reinstatement in 1983 after the Islamic Revolution. Iran’s prevailing Islamic penal code, Article 368, prescribes penalties ranging from 10 days to two months in prison or fines ranging from 50,000 to 500,000 Iranian rials.
The proposed bill aims to elevate the failure to wear a hijab to a more severe offence, carrying a prison term of five to ten years and a higher fine of up to 360 million Iranian rials (USD 8,508). This fine is likely unaffordable for the average Iranian, many of whom live below the poverty line.
Furthermore, the legislation outlines provisions for Iranian law enforcement to enhance AI systems for the detection of dress code violations, incorporating fixed and mobile cameras in public spaces. Under the draught law, business owners who neglect to enforce the hijab requirement could incur more substantial fines, potentially equivalent to three months of their business profits, along with travel restrictions and bans from engaging in public or cyber activities for up to two years.