(Picture: Dan Jones Images Ltd)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.
(Picture: Dan Jones Images Ltd)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.
(Picture: Dan Jones Images Ltd)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.
(Picture: Dan Jones Images Ltd)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 Metro.co.uk: ‘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.
IOHR Director Valerie Peay joined the protest (Picture: Dan Jones Images Ltd)‘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.’
The IOHR has campaigned extensively for other high profile cases such as British charity worker Nazanin Ratcliffe, Saeed Malekpour and Ahmadreza Djalali.
They are now calling on the public to support their campaign by posting #WhiteWednesdays on social media on a Wednesday ideally with a white square or even a picture of themselves wearing white.
If you’d like to find out more about how to support the campaign or follow news about women currently in jail or being arrested, visit the IOHR website.
MORE: Feminism needs to cater to Muslim women, not the other way around
MORE: Wearing a hijab for one day is not the solidarity Muslims need
MORE: Muslim women’s modesty only benefits them in society when it aligns with patriarchal and sexist views