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In Iran, it’s a crime for women to appear in public with their hair uncovered. Yasaman Aryani, a 24-year-old activist, wanted to change this. She’s been sentenced to 16 years in prison for campaigning against forced veiling.

It was International Women’s Day 2019 when Yasaman and her mother took off their headscarves and walked through a women-only train carriage in Tehran, handing out white flowers. Yasaman spoke of her hopes for a future when all women would have the freedom to choose what to wear, “me without the hijab and you with the hijab”.  After a video of this went viral, Yasaman was arrested and charged with “inciting and facilitating corruption and prostitution" through promoting “unveiling”.

In the last few years, a growing movement against forced veiling laws has emerged inside Iran, with women and girls performing courageous acts of defiance. Men and women who actively choose to wear hijab have joined too – because the movement is about choice: a woman’s right to choose what to wear without fear of harassment, violence, threats and imprisonment.

Yasaman’s cruel punishment is part of a wider crackdown on women campaigning against discriminatory forced veiling laws in Iran. The Iranian authorities must not be allowed to rob Yasaman of the best years of her life – simply because she believes women should have the right to choose what they wear. 

Help fight for Yasaman’s release. Sign the petition, call on the Iranian authorities to:

  • Unconditionally release Yasaman Aryani from prison
  • Unconditionally release from prison all other women’s rights defenders detained for peacefully protesting against forced veiling.