Amnesty has called on the Iranian government to ‘immediately and unconditionally’ release a woman arrested for taking off her headscarf in public to protest the Islamic dress code enforced on women.
The unnamed woman was filmed standing on a pillar box in central Tehran, waving a white hijab in the air, in a video which later went viral.
Witnesses say the woman, a 31-year-old mother-of-one, was arrested shortly afterwards and has not been seen since.
The human rights organisation said in a statement to MailOnline that ‘Iranian authorities must immediately and unconditionally’ release her, describing her actions as ‘engaging in a peaceful protest against compulsory veiling (hijab)’.
Three eyewitnesses reported to Amnesty International that law enforcement officials arrested the woman on the spot, and transferred her to a nearby detention centre known as Kalantari 148.
No information about her fate and whereabouts has since been made available publicly, sparking fears about her safety and well-being.
Thousands of social media users have shared messages of support, dubbing her the ‘Girl of Enghelab Street’ after the area in central Tehran where she staged the protest.
A social media campaign using the hashtag #WhereIsShe has now gone global, with activists calling on the United Nations to get involved and take the Iranian government to task and force them to reveal what happened to her.
Nasrin Sotoudeh, a renowned human rights lawyer, has taken it upon herself to investigate the disappearance, and said she is certain the woman is in custody.
Ms Sotoudeh said she could not find out the woman’s name, but had been told she was 31 years of age, and had a 19-month-old baby.
‘What I am certain about is that this lady has been arrested,’ she told 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.’
The woman was protesting Iran’s Islamic legal code, which requires women to wear a headscarf and long clothes that cover the arms and legs.
Breaking the rules can bring fines of up to 500,000 rials ($12) and up to two months in prison.
Ms Sotoudeh claims that police of frequently go beyond what is punishable by law for not wearing a headscarf.
She said: ‘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. 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.’
President Hassan Rouhani, who came to power in 2013 promising a more moderate stance, has previously said it is not the job of police to enforce religious rules.
But in April 2016, officials said there were 7,000 undercover morality police reporting on things like ‘bad hijab’ – a blanket term usually referring to un-Islamic dress by women.
Source » dailymail