Iranian authorities reportedly whipped a woman 74 times for allegedly "violating public morals." Besides, she was fined for refusing to wear a hijab while walking in the streets of Tehran. Roya Heshmati, 33, was lashed with a leather whip and fined $300 for allegedly "encouraging permissiveness" for not wearing a hijab while walking in public.
Heshmati described on her now-locked social media page how she endured brutal beatings across her back, legs, and buttocks in what she likened to a medieval torture chamber. Despite the ordeal, she remained steadfast in her decision not to wear a hijab, even in the courtroom. The brutal punishment triggered widespread outcry on social media
Describing her ordeal on social media, Heshmati wrote, "[The lashing] was over. We left the room. I didn't let them think I had experienced pain... We went up to the judge in charge of execution of the sentence. The female agent walked behind me and was careful not to let my headscarf drop from my head.
"I threw off my scarf at the courtroom entrance. The woman asked me to wear the headscarf. I didn't stop and she pulled it over my head again."
The harsh punishment sparked widespread outcry on social media. Prominent Iranian journalist and social activist Abbas Abdi joined the chorus of dissent, expressing his concerns about the incident.
He wrote: "These lashes did not just come down on the body of one woman, they hit all those who dream of a life with normal freedoms alongside each other.
"Enough is enough. Don't disgust the society any more than this."
"The convicted, Roya Heshmati, encouraged permissiveness (by appearing) disgracefully in busy public places in Tehran," the judiciary's Mizan Online website said late on Saturday.
"Her penalty of 74 strokes of the lash was carried out in accordance with the law and with 'sharia,' and 'for violating public morals," Mizan said.
The judiciary claimed that Heshmati had ties to an "organized group outside Iran," although specific details were not provided.
Despite enduring the brutal beating, Heshmati reportedly continued to resist wearing a headscarf provided by officials, as reported by Iran International.
Still in Medieval Era
Iranian law mandated that all women in the country cover their necks and heads shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. This requirement is part of the broader dress code aimed at adhering to Islamic principles and cultural norms.
Whippings for breaching the dress code are uncommon in Iran, although officials have increasingly cracked down on those defying the rules after the practice surged during anti-government protests that began in late 2022.
Those protests were triggered by the September 2022 death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd arrested for an alleged breach of the Islamic Republic's strict dress code for women.
During the protests, female demonstrators cast off their headscarves or even burned them. Other women also began to flout the dress code, leading to a crackdown.
Hengaw, a Kurdish-focused rights group, identified Heshmati as a 33-year-old woman of Kurdish origins. She was arrested in April for the offense of "publishing a photo on social media without wearing a headscarf," as reported by her lawyer Maziar Tatai to the reformist Shargh daily.
Heshmati was also fined 12 million rials for "not wearing the Muslim veil in public," according to Tatai. While a prison sentence was initially proposed, it was later withdrawn.
As part of their efforts to enforce the dress code, authorities have deployed surveillance cameras in public areas to monitor violations. Businesses that fail to comply with the regulations have also faced closures.