Activists Appear Unveiled in Tehran on Women's Day

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2019-03-08

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Small groups of Iranian women celebrated International Women's Day by appearing publicly unveiled in Tehran and calling on Iranians to support their defiance of mandatory veiling in the Islamist nation.

VOA Persian received and verified a video clip showing two unveiled women marking Friday's occasion by holding a red sign and speaking to a camera on Valiasr Street, one of the Iranian capital's main thoroughfares. Their sign said International Women's Day is a promise of a just world for all humanity.

In the video, the women call for an end to what they see as systematic injustice against women in Iran. "Separation of the sexes doesn't bring security to women, it brings violence," says one of the activists. "The scale of freedom in society should be measured by the freedom of women," says the other.

​In another video clip sent to Masih Alinejad, the freelance host of VOA Persian's Tablet program, and shared by her on social media, several unveiled women hand out flowers to conservatively dressed women wearing black chadors in a women's-only Tehran Metro train car.

One of the unveiled activists says the date is March 8 and praises Iranian women as strong and resilient, before wishing them a happy International Women's Day.

Another unveiled activist and a seated woman in a chador exchange kisses on the cheeks, with the activist saying she hopes that one day, women who want to wear a hijab and those who do not will come together and not judge each other. Several other women in chadors appear uncomfortable with the Metro encounter, which the activists recorded on a phone.

In another development, Alinejad reported that two Iranian women who shared with her a video of themselves walking unveiled on a street in the western city of Kangavar last week have been arrested.

Alinejad told VOA Persian that a relative of one of the two women sent her a message confirming that the pair were detained after their unveiled walk on Feb. 27.

In the video, a narrator who identifies himself as the husband of one of the two women says they are filming the walk as part of a "White Wednesdays" campaign, backed by Alinejad, in which women in Iran appear unveiled in public.

The Telegram channel of a Kangavar news site posted a March 3 message from a group of conservative women in the city, condemning what they called the ugly act of the unveiled walk and calling on authorities to deal with the perpetrators.

There has been no word on the fate of the two women in Kangavar in Iranian state media.

This article originated in VOA's Persian service.