Men in Iran have invented a rather unorthodox, novel way to register protest. In a bid to speak up against the restrictive dress code imposed by the authoritarian government on women, empathetic fathers, brothers, husbands, friends of the ladies have taken to social media, posting photos of themselves wearing the oppressive hijab.
Iranian activist Masih Alinejad started a project called ‘My Stealthy Freedom’ in which women posted photographs of themselves with free-flowing tresses – a simple pleasure that is forbidden in public.
Now, the men have joined in, hoping to try and put pressure on the Iranian government to change the law by force of public opinion. One husband says he felt very sad when he heard his wife express the simplest desire ‘to feel the wind in her hair’ when they went to the beach, but she could not dare loosen her headscarf.
According to police records, in the last two years over four million women in Iran have received warnings for not wearing a proper hijab. Undercover policemen are always on the lookout to catch immodest offenders forcing them by beating to conform to more ‘Islamic’ behaviour.
Alinejad says most of the men who tried on the hijab found it ‘suffocating’, saying they cannot even bear it for an hour, let alone the whole day, as their female counterparts are expected to do.