A lawyer in Iran expressed concern over the fate of the “Girl of Enghelab Street,” a woman arrested for removing her white headscarf and waving it in the air in a sign of protest to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s compulsory hijab law.
The woman’s act of bravery and defiance took place on one of Tehran’s busiest streets on December 27, just one day prior to the start of the national uprising against the Iranian government, as part of a movement known as “White Wednesday.” She quickly became a symbol of hope for the protesters.
“What I am certain about is that this lady has been arrested,” Nasrin Sotoudeh, a renowned human rights lawyer, said of the missing activist to the AFP. “The witnesses on the scene who saw her being taken away and even accompanied her to the police station gave me this information. I have no contact with her family.”
Sotoudeh reportedly went to Enghelab Street, where the woman carried out her defiant act, to discover more about her whereabouts. She told AFP that the only information she was able to gather was that the woman is 31 years old and has a 19-month-old baby.
The incident took place on the same day that the Iranian regime announced it was relaxing its punishment for women who do not adhere to the strict Islamic dress code. Police reportedly said that women who wear makeup and loosened headscarves will no longer face arrest, but will be sent to “Islamic values” classes.
However, women who repeatedly break the rules will ultimately be arrested.
Despite the announced change, it is possible the regime will change its stance again.
Sotoudeh told the AFP that in the past the regime’s authorities have taken women to a holding place before they receive legal representation and beaten them.
“Before even being tried by legal authorities, [women] are taken to a place called ‘Gasht-e Ershad’ [Guidance Patrol], where they can be harshly beaten up,” she said. “Whether a case is opened for them or not is not important. The illegal punishment they have had to bear has always been much more than what is foreseen in the law.”