Tehran | A potential draft legislation in Iran that would cement harsh sanctions for women and girls who do not wear a headscarf might amount to 'gender apartheid' in the country, the UN experts in a statement issued on Friday, according to CNN.
The new legislation, which is presently being reviewed by the Iranian parliament, would impose heavy penalties on women who refuse to wear the veil, including lengthy prison sentences.
“The draft law could be described as a form of gender apartheid, as authorities appear to be governing through systemic discrimination with the intention of suppressing women and girls into total submission,” the UN experts said, according to CNN.
Both the proposed law and the existing restrictions, according to UN experts, "are inherently discriminatory and may amount to gender persecution."
The UN expert panel includes multiple special rapporteurs as well as a working group on discrimination against women and girls.
Iran's 70-article draft also calls for penalties for those who do not abide by the regulations and the use of artificial intelligence to identify women in breach of the dress code.
“The weaponisation of ‘public morals’ to deny women and girls their freedom of expression is deeply disempowering and will entrench and expand gender discrimination and marginalisation, with wider negative consequences for children and society as a whole,” the experts said, according to CNN.
Iranian officials are reviewing the draught law just weeks before the one-year anniversary of the large protests prompted by the death of Mahsa Amini, a young lady who died after being stopped by Iran's morality police in Tehran in September 2022.
In September 2022, Iranians took to the streets nationwide in protest for several months against Iran's mandatory hijab law, and political and social
issues across the country, following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the morality police.
Women burnt their headscarves and cut their hair, with some schoolgirls removing them in classrooms.
Those arrested for participating in anti-government demonstrations faced various forms of abuse and torture, including electric shocks, controlled drowning, rape and mock executions.
Notably, under Iran's Islamic Sharia law, imposed after the 1979 revolution, women are obliged to cover their hair and wear long, loose-fitting clothes to disguise their figures. Violators have faced public rebuke, fines or arrest.