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After the 1979 revolution in Iran, women have been forced to wear the hijab in public. Back then, more than 100,000 women and men took to the streets to protest against the law and opposition to it has never gone away. In 2018, 112 women were arrested in Iran for defending women’s rights, many for peacefully protesting against Iran’s mandatory hijab law.

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Mojgan Keshavarz, an anti-compulsory hijab activist has been arrested in recent days for the crime of peacefully protesting compulsory hijab.

Ms. Keshavarz (aka Maya), a mother of a 9-year-old girl, was arrested on Thursday, April 25, 2019, at her home in Tehran. She was beaten in front of her daughter, arrested and taken away to an unknown location.

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Shaparak Shajarizadeh, named by the BBC as one of the 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world for 2018, is part of a growing wave of activists pushing back against Iran’s compulsory hijab law and participating in protest campaigns known as #WhiteWednesdays and #TheGirlsofRevolutionStreet.

Shajarizadeh was arrested three times in 2017 for removing her headscarf in public, and jailed in both Shahr-e Rey and Evin prisons. Shajarizadeh fled to Turkey where she was later reunited with her son. While there, she learned she had been sentenced to 20 years in prison (with 18 years of which was suspended but has now been reinstated). She and her son are now living in Toronto. Her lawyer, prominent human rights advocate Nasrin Sotoudeh, was convicted of national security crimes in March 2019 and given lengthy jail sentence for defending women anti-compulsory hijab protesters.

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On 8 March 1979, more than 100,000 women gathered on the streets of the Iranian capital to protest against the new Islamic government’s compulsory hijab ruling, which meant that women would henceforth be required to wear a headscarf when away from home. The protest was held on International Women’s Day, and the images show women from all walks of life — nurses, students, mothers — marching, smiling, arms raised in protest.

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