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Dress code in Tehran


Arash Sameti: My interviewee had a unique experience that is hard to forget. During the last summer, she was arrested by the Moral Police in Tehran, Iran. The police considered her clothing not sufficient enough. They told her that the sleeves were considered shorter than allowed and tighter than the government standards. She agreed to explain her story, with the condition of remaining anonymous.
Was your clothing that bad?
I was wearing the official Manto. It is like a longer dress that women must wear out of their home in Tehran, on the top of any other thing that you want to wear. It did not have any problem. It was even black and that’s the color which is preferred by the Moral Police. I think they just wanted to arrest some people to show their power and will to other citizens.
What are the standards of the government regarding the clothing?
There is no freedom for women to choose what they want to wear. As I mentioned you have to wear a long and loose dress on anything else. Off course you have to cover your hair with a scarf.
The dress must be very long to cover your knees and its sleeves must be so long up to your wrist. Also it has to be very loose. If they think that it is tight; they will arrest you.  The scarf must be wide and big and you are not allowed to let your hair out from the forehead or back. They also don't like colorful dresses and so it should be black or dark blue.
So how did they arrest you?
I was going home. It was a very hot summer day in Tehran. Usually the temperature in Tehran reaches 35-36 and it was the same that day. As you can imagine it is very hard for women to go out in that kind of situation.
I was walking home and I had to pass a Moral Police station located in a roundabout. It was 1 pm and all I was thinking was to get home and get rid of the stupid uniform and lay down. Suddenly I heard someone calling me from the behind. Unintentionally I turned my head back and I saw a woman in a complete black cloth that is known as chador. She came right to me while in a few steps from her a huge police man was standing. The first thing she did was grab my hand and in a very impolite way she pulled me to the side and said; "what is this that you are wearing?" It was impossible for me to give any kind of explanation. They act like programmed robots. They do what they are told and complaining or negotiating with them is useless. They took my ID and put me in a police van standing there.
Were you all alone in that vehicle?
No. There were four or five other girls and women there too. One was older than me and the rest were younger or about the same age. One of them was only 16. She was frightened and was crying. It was a terrible experience for all of us. To make it a complete torture, we had to sit in the hot car without AC and wait until it was full. That means we had to wait for the police to arrest more women and to avoid the heat we had to pray for the arrest of more women! Off course I did not do so but seemingly that`s what they wanted to happen. 
Where did they take you finally?
We were taken to a Police Station North West Tehran. They put us in a room and one by one we were taken to another room where we had to hand in our IDs and fill in a detailed form. The worst part was that they took our pictures holding a number, as if we were murderers or criminals.
We were treated like criminals and had to avoid their dirty looks and jokes. They acted as if we were prostitutes. Any argue or defense was useless.
Then another person with a long beard appeared. He seemed like a higher authority and he told us as this was our first time they would let us go, but the second time they are going to imprison us.
The arrested women ordered to call home and ask their relatives to bring a sufficient ID that shows the relationship and proper clothing. In my case I called my husband and he had to bring along his identification in which it is indicated that we are husband and wife. He also had to bring a wide, old style, black Manto ( the long dress).
How did this hard experience affect you?
For a few days I was not able to leave my house as I felt scared. I cried a lot and preferred to be alone. It took me several days to reconstruct myself and be able to leave the house. The whole thing was ridiculous and the worst part is that they are still arresting women in streets of Tehran.

Comments

mehdi said…
thanks arash so much

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About me

I hold an MA in New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands and a BSc in Persian-English Translations from the University of Payamnour, Tehran, Iran.  My MA thesis concerns the role of Social Media in general and Facebook in particular in education and integration of refugees in the Netherlands.  The title of my thesis is "Ethnographic Study of Facebook Usage among the Persian and Arabic Speaking Refugees and Asylum seekers in Asylum Center in Utrecht"  I have served on the website and social media editorial boards and am a frequent contributor to several journals. Currently, I am holding the position of Editor in Chief at IranGids.nl which is a multi-language website focusing on Iranian Tourist attractions.  My research areas include (but not limited to) Social Movements, Fandom, Transmedia, Pedagogy, Social Capital and Ethnic Media.  My most current research focuses on “The Iranian Zoroastrians Representation in New Media”. 

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