A woman should wash corpses for burial and an actress must attend counseling “to cure her anti-social personality disorder” for flouting the hijab.
These are just some of the weird decisions by religious courts in Iran handed down to women who in sizzling summer heat do not cover their upper body and head by a large shroud.
Iranian media and rights groups have reported that a woman was sentenced by a court in Varamin, a town south of the capital Tehran, to performing the ritual washing of corpses at a Tehran funeral establishment for one month in addition to a cash fine of 31m rials ($60) for not wearing the hijab in her car while driving.
Disregarding forced hijab has become common in large Iranian cities after last year’s popular protests that started when a young woman died in hijab police custody.
Another court in Tehran sentenced a woman to 270 hours of cleaning at the buildings of the interior ministry. Both sentences were a reprieve from two-month prison sentences.
“Are you not ashamed of the respectable and hardworking workers of Behesht-e Zahra funeral house for choosing their respectable profession as a punishment [for women] for not wearing your compulsory uniform?” documentary maker Mojgan Ilanlu asked the court in an Instagram post Friday.
The court ruled that the woman’s defense saying her headscarf may have fallen on her shoulders unintentionally was not acceptable.
The news about actress Azadeh Samadi being sentenced to counseling sessions at “an official counseling center to cure her anti-social personality disorder” have also gone viral on social media since Friday. The court has also decided that Samadi cannot use her phone for six months and all her social media accounts would be “confiscated”.
A different court in Tehran last week sentenced another woman for defiance of hijab to two months of prison, six months of treatment for what the court called “contagious psychological disorder that causes sexual promiscuity” and a ban on traveling abroad.
Chicago-based law expert Pegah Bani-Hashemi told Iran International that judges are not entitled to sit in the place of psychologists and make diagnoses, such as “anti-social personality”, in cases where the defendant has not abided by hijab rules.
Defying the compulsory hijab, Samadi attended the funeral of a colleague wearing a hat instead of a headscarf. Actress Taraneh Alidoosti in a Twitter post criticized the authorities for convicting her colleague because in many Iranian government approved films actresses appeared wearing hats, when playing roles about the pre-1979 era when hijab was not so common.
Directors Guild of Iran and the Iran Producers Guild in a joint statement Saturday condemned Samadi’s sentencing and called it “an insult to the intelligence of all cinema people”.
In their statement, the two influential unions said they would stand by Iranian actresses and filmmakers whom the authorities try to humiliate with similar court decisions. They also demanded an apology to Samadi for the verdict which they called “weird”.
In June, Iran’s government film watchdog warned producers that if they give roles to actresses who have removed their hijab in public, their films could be banned.
Some other celebrities including Taraneh Alidoosti, and Katayoun Riahi were arrested or came under various types of pressures including foreign travel ban during the anti-government protests.
Riahi, 61, was the first among Iranian female artists to express her solidarity with the Mahsa Movement by sharing her photo without a veil on Instagram. “Iranian women are each other’s voices,” she said in her post. She was put on trial in January for supporting the protests.