Iranian Judges Rule Actresses as 'Insane' for Defying Hijab Laws

While protests in Iran have slowly subsided after Mahsa Amini died under the custody of the morality police in September 2022 for failing to wear her hijab correctly, the Iranian regime remains steadfast as ever in strictly enforcing its mandatory hijab law on Iranian women.

On July 20th, there were reports that an Iranian woman was sentenced to two years in prison for violating the Islamic Republic’s mandatory hijab rule. However, the judge who handed down the ruling, Mohammad Hossein Esmail Morineh of Branch 104 of Varamin Criminal Court, offered an alternative punishment.

Instead of spending two years in prison, the woman was offered to work for one month as a body washer at a morgue in Tehran and pay a fine of 3.1 million tomans (equivalent to around 75 US dollars). While Morineh said she could appeal her conviction, an appeals court overturned her request since rulings against violators of the hijab law in Iran are definitive and cannot be appealed.

But ordinary Iranian women were not the only ones to bear the brunt of the Islamic Republic insisting on enforcing its harsh mandatory Islamic dress code. Three prominent Iranian actresses have also been convicted for allegedly defying the country’s hijab rules. The female actors, Azadeh Samadi, Leila Bolukat, and Afsaneh Bayegan, were punished by the regime after being seen in public without wearing hijabs or other headscarves.

Veteran actress Afsaneh Bayegan was given a two-year prison sentence and banned from traveling and using the Internet on July 19th after she appeared at a film ceremony wearing a hat instead of a hijab. A Tehran court also ordered her to undergo mandatory, weekly psychological treatment “to treat the mental disorder of having an anti-family personality,” a condition that Western medical bodies do not recognize.

44-year-old actress Azadeh Samadi was also given a similar order on July 18th after being detained for wearing a hat instead of a hijab while attending a funeral. She was also denied access to her phone, her social media accounts were shut down, and Tehran’s Criminal Court ordered her to seek psychiatric treatment bi-weekly to be treated for an "anti-social disease.” However, she was not given a prison sentence.

Judges also diagnosed 42-year-old Leila Bolukat with mental illnesses after she posted photos of herself without a hijab on social media. She was previously sentenced to six months in jail and a further ban on her professional activities for two years.

Major psychiatric and psychology boards in Iran condemned the sentences against the three Iranian actresses, with heads of four psychiatry boards publicly criticizing the rulings through an open letter addressed to Iran’s judiciary chief, calling the diagnoses "unscientific and strange” and urging the authorities to amend the sentences against the three Iranian actresses.

Film festivals in Iran were also unsafe from the regime’s mandatory hijab law after the authorities banned an upcoming film festival organized by the Iranian Short Film Association (IFSA) for releasing a poster featuring an actress who was not wearing a hijab.

The actress in the poster was Susan Taslimi, who starred in the 1982 film The Death of Yazdgerd. The short film festival was scheduled to be released in September.

The culture minister has personally issued an order to ban the 13th edition of the ISFA film festival after using a photo of a woman without a hijab on its poster in violation of the law,” the state-run news agency IRNA reported on July 22nd.

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