Just a couple of weeks ago, the world witnessed a rather unusual but massive campaign called “Free the Nipple”, in which protesters from 60 countries across the world took to the streets in protest of the female bare chests being censored and females not being allowed to be topless in many public places, unlike their male counter parts, which seemingly shows the duplicity that exists in our society when it comes to gender equality.
While this campaign got eye balls from around the world, there is another campaign, not known by many, which is changing the lives of women, especially in Iran. On May 3, 2014, an Iranian journalist, Mashid Alinejad, started a campaign to liberate Iranian women from the obligatory hijab (head scarf) that was made compulsory in 1979 after Iran’s Islamic revolution.
The soft yet powerful protest started on a Facebook page, My Stealthy Freedom. Here, Iranian women, of all ages and generations are not just empowering and inspiring society with pictures of themselves without the obligatory hijab, but have created quite a ripple in the Iranian parliament as well.
The Iranian Parliament faced numerous obstacles in passing a recent bill aimed to reinforce compliance with the women’s dress code. The Parliament has been advised by various legal bodies to suspend this bill. This is probably the first time since the Islamic revolution that a legal body associated with the Parliament has been made to caution the MPs not to adopt a more conservative bill on the enforcement of the dress code.
The movement has undoubtedly gained lots of opposition. One of the first backlashes was a sarcastic Facebook group called “Men’s stealthy freedom” poking fun at the women and demeaning them. A lot of religious fundamental women started campaigning in favour of the hijab, however, the protest died sooner after it began.
A lot of women who posted their pictures online were subjected to punishments and over 100 men went onto the streets demanding these women be arrested. Many religious clerics have spoken out against the Stealthy Freedom movement, but this hasn’t changed the resolve of the women, and many supportive men who want to bring about positive change.
In Tehran, the women’s sleeves are getting shorter, boots are getting back in vogue and the hijab is getting looser. But this is just the start of an inspiring campaign that aims to liberate its women and it surely deserves way more attention that it is currently getting.