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Iranian Activist Criticizes Tightening Of 'Veil And Chastity' Rule

Conservative officials in Iran say a proper veil covers all of a woman's hair.

Conservative officials in Iran say a proper veil covers all of a woman's hair.

A prominent Iranian women's rights activist has expressed concern about government plans to crack down on how women dress in public, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

Shadi Sadr, who lives in Germany, was sentenced in absentia earlier this month to prison along with a fellow Iranian women's rights activist. She told Radio Farda on May 18 that a tightening of the so-called "Veil and Chastity" plan was an effort by the government to keep women at home.

Sadr, 35, said that "the problem is not women's veils or chastity, but their presence in society." She added that the government was trying to send women back to their homes in order to isolate them and prevent their social progress.

The Iranian president's office for women and family affairs recently called for stricter implementation of the "Veil and Chastity" plan. The measure will first target places where women most commonly assemble, such as schools and universities.

The veil is the central focus of the government's tightened restrictions.

The authorities have recently claimed the West has promoted the wearing of the "improper veil" in Iran.

Conservative parliament deputy Hamid Rasaee said that "based on confidential Iranian intelligence documents, Western countries have plotted to encourage 'improper [wearing of the] veil' in Iran."

Parvin Ahmadinejad, the sister of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad and a Tehran city councilwoman, agreed with Rasaee, saying that some groups of women are paid to institutionalize the "improper veil" in Iran. She said such women "must be severely punished."

Conservative officials in Iran have said a proper veil covers all of a woman's hair. If any parts of the hair can be seen, then the veil is considered "improper."

Wearing a veil is not a matter of great controversy, even among younger, more liberal Iranian women. The problem has been over how much hair should be covered while wearing it.

Sociologist Azadeh Kyan told Radio Farda on May 17 that hard-line government policies toward women have failed repeatedly over the last three decades. "The majority of protesters in Iran today are those who were born after the 1979 Revolution," she said.