On Thursday, police announced that they would no longer arrest women who fail to observe the strict Islamic dress code requirements that were put in place in 1979. Young and reform-oriented citizens of the nation have long resisted the rules, which mandate women wear headscarves, avoid heavy makeup, and forgo nail polish.
“Those who do not observe the Islamic dress code will no longer be taken to detention centers, nor will judicial cases be filed against them,” said Gen. Hossein Rahimi, the Tehran police chief, according to a local news agency.
Instead of the harsh punishments, as reported by ABC News, violators may be required to attend classes, which are taught by police. This point was affirmed by Rahimi, who stated that police would “educate” violators, but “not arrest those who don’t respect Islamic values.”
Many liberal Iranian women have long pushed back against the dress code, which has been in place for nearly 40 years and was put in place after the Iranian Revolution in 1979, choosing to wear their headscarves, or hijabs, loosely so that it doesn’t fully cover their hair or using nail polish.
Previously, violators in Tehran and the rest of the country would be detained until their families brought them what was deemed to be appropriate attire. They would also have to sign a form stating they would not commit the violation again.
While the announcement marks further social progress, Iranian activist Masih Alinejad, asserted that the government was “avoiding a real solution” to the dress code debate.
“They should understand that in this day and age, how women dress is none of their business,” said Alinejad in an Instagram post. “This is a small victory but a victory nevertheless. But our true victory is when compulsory hijab is abolished.”
Men are also subjected to requirements under the dress code, including a ban on shorts or going shirtless, though, presumably, police in Tehran will take the same approach and not detain male violators either.