In Tehran, Iranian authorities confirmed that a woman named Roya Heshmati received 74 lashes as punishment for “violating public morals” and was also fined for not covering her head, according to a statement from the judiciary. The Mizan Online website, representing the judiciary, reported late on Saturday that Roya Heshmati was convicted of “encouraging permissiveness” by behaving in a manner deemed inappropriate in busy public places in Tehran.

The statement emphasized that the penalty of 74 lashes was administered in accordance with the law and Sharia, explicitly citing the violation of public morals as the basis for the disciplinary action. This case raises concerns and sparks discussions about the enforcement of social norms and the use of corporal punishment in Iran.

Since shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iranian law has mandated that all women cover their neck and head. Whippings for dress code violations are infrequent in Iran, but authorities have intensified efforts to curb defiance following a surge in such incidents during anti-government protests that erupted in late 2022.

The catalyst for these protests was the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd, in September 2022. Amini was arrested for allegedly breaching the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code for women. In response to her death, female demonstrators in the protests discarded or even burned their headscarves, prompting a wider defiance of the dress code and subsequent crackdown by officials.

Roya Heshmati, identified as a 33-year-old woman of Kurdish origins by the Kurdish-focused rights group Hengaw, was arrested in April for “publishing a photo on social media without wearing a headscarf,” according to her lawyer, Maziar Tatai. Alongside the 74 lashes, she was also fined 12 million rials (approximately $25) for “not wearing the Muslim veil in public.”

In an effort to monitor violations, officials have installed surveillance cameras in public spaces and shuttered businesses that violate dress code regulations. Additionally, Iran’s parliament has contemplated a bill proposing stricter penalties for those breaching the dress code. This evolving situation raises concerns about individual freedoms and the broader implications of dress code enforcement in the country.

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