In Iran women who break the country’s compulsory hijab laws are punished.

To protest against the rigid system, Iranian women started taking pictures of themselves wearing white and taking off their hijab last year. The movement soon went international.

It came to be known as the #WhiteWednesdays movement. Last week campaigners proved that the fight was still going strong when they surrounded the Iranian Embassy in London with a massive white veil.

The move came after Nasrin Sotoudeh, an international human rights lawyer, was sentenced to 33 years in prison and 148 lashes for protecting women who appeared in public without a hijab.

Organised by the International Observatory of Human Rights (IOHR), the campaign is calling for women to be given the right to choose whether or not they cover their hair.

White Wednesdays is also a social media protest designed to raise awareness of women in Iranian jails who are being lashed for not wearing the hijab.

Nasrin’s 38-year jail sentence was passed without a trial having taken place.

Last Wednesday protestors wore T-shirts with the hashtag #FreeNasrin and held signs featuring her face.

White Wednesdays is the work of writer and activist Masih Alinejad, who began the Facebook page My Stealthy Freedom where Iranian women can post videos and pictures of themselves without their headscarves.

It began as a safe, private space for women to be themselves without being threatened with arrest.

In the first two weeks of the Facebook page’s existence, hundreds of videos were sent in by women who wanted to remove their headscarves and support women’s rights in Iran.

With the movement growing in popularity all over the world, Masih came up with an idea which would allow women to protest in public as well as online.

She called on people to wear white to display freedom from the traditionally black Islamic dress which women are required to wear in conservative families.

Soon, women all over the world were taking part in White Wednesdays and sharing their pictures online with the hashtag.

Masih has now been exiled to the U.S, unable to return home for fear of being arrested and tortured.

The IOHR supports Masih and believes that putting a continuous focus on Iran’s treatment of women will impact change.

IOHR Director Valerie Peay tells ‘We are at an ultimate tipping point for human rights in Iran.

‘The utter disregard of women’s rights is appalling; more than 112 women have been jailed in 2018 for merely practising their civil liberties and objecting to forced hijab laws.

‘There are lives at stake and Iran’s head of the judiciary can make a positive change by pardoning Nasrin and all those unjustly jailed–that is why we are protesting–calling for justice.’

Source » metro