Tragedy and Unrest Surrounding Iran’s Hijab Law: The Case of Armita Geravand

A teenage girl was ‘physically attacked’ by Iranian authorities for not wearing a hijab, according to a human rights group (Sky)

Armita Geravand, a 16-year-old Iranian girl, tragically passed away following an alleged encounter with officers on the Tehran Metro over violating the country’s hijab law. This incident has stirred considerable outrage, particularly among women in Tehran and elsewhere who continue to defy Iran’s mandatory headscarf, or hijab, law as a symbol of their discontent with the country’s theocracy.

Human rights groups were the first to bring Armita’s hospitalization to the public’s attention, sharing photos on social media that depicted her unconscious and on life support, with a respiratory tube and her head bandaged. It’s worth noting that Reuters could not independently verify these images.

Iran has denied any wrongdoing, asserting that Armita’s injuries were not the result of an altercation with officers enforcing the mandatory Islamic dress code on the Tehran metro.

The state-run IRNA news agency reported Armita’s death, citing medical reasons for her tragic passing. According to the official explanation, she suffered a sudden drop in blood pressure, leading to a fall, a brain injury, seizures, decreased cerebral oxygenation, and a cerebral edema.

While a friend claimed that Armita hit her head on the station’s platform, footage of the incident remains inconclusive. Shortly after, her limp body was carried away.

Armita’s parents also appeared on state media, suggesting that a blood pressure issue, a fall, or a combination of factors contributed to their daughter’s injury.

This incident comes amid increasing defiance from Iranian citizens, both on the streets of Tehran and in the digital realm, as the authoritarian regime becomes more oppressive. Activists both in and outside of Iran have raised concerns that Armita may have been pushed or attacked due to her failure to wear the hijab. They are calling for an independent investigation by the United Nations’ fact-finding mission on Iran, highlighting the theocracy’s history of pressuring victims’ families and airing coerced confessions on state TV.

It’s important to note that Armita’s injury is reminiscent of the case of Mahsa Amini, who tragically passed away in September 2022 after being detained by Iranian morality police for alleged improper hijab wearing. Suspicions of abuse during her arrest led to significant protests, posing a major challenge to Iran’s theocratic government.

In the wake of these protests, many women in Tehran continued to defy the hijab law, even as Iran reinstated its morality police and politicians pushed for stricter penalties for non-compliance. Iran, along with neighboring Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, remains one of the few countries where the hijab is mandatory for women.