In Iran, parliamentarians have taken the controversial penal reform of compulsory headscarves a decisive step forward. A parliamentary commission approved the bill, which has been controversial for months, the Tasnim news agency reported on Monday.

The reform now provides for draconian penalties for disregarding the Islamic dress code. In the case of multiple violations, these include fines, bans on leaving the country or imprisonment.

In the next step, the reform will be presented to the Guardian Council, a control body made up of arch-conservative clergy.

The penal reform is a response by the clerical and political leadership to the protests led by women against the Islamic Republic in autumn 2022. While everyday life has returned to the country, numerous women in the metropolises are demonstratively resisting the headscarf requirement, also as a sign of silence protests

Hardliners have been demanding tougher action against the numerous violations for months. In its current form, the draft law has already triggered criticism in many cases. This is another reason why the government used a political trick. It convened a constitutional commission to approve the law without a vote in Parliament. The law will initially be introduced for a probationary period.

The newspaper “Hammihan”, which is assigned to the camp of reform politicians, criticized the procedure in an editorial on Monday. An expert criticized the political trick. “This bill should have been passed publicly and transparently in Parliament,” the paper quoted lawyer Huschang Purbabaie as saying.