Removing the Headscarf: Iranian Women Search for Freedom

By February 3, 2020

Iran (MNN) – For years women in Iran have been silenced by harsh laws and strict codes. Yet now, even in the face of increased pressure from morality police, women are taking a stand for their freedom.

Not Forgotten, a division of Uncharted Ministries, sees this searching for freedom as a first step toward finding ultimate freedom in Christ. However, the journey is a long one.

Recently Iran licensed 2000 additional morality police for the purpose of enforcing public conduct codes, especially for women. But what prompted such an action?

Morality Laws

Since the 1979 revolution in Iran, strict codes under Sharia law have been an every day reality. These cover a variety of topics, many of which are moral topics. Women went from relatively great freedom, to having every move watched and evaluated. Suddenly wearing a head covering was mandatory for all Iranian women; and it was enforced.

Now it is a symbol of oppression that many women are rebelling against.

(Courtesy of Hamed Saber on Flickr

Iranian women abroad and at home are condemning the headscarf and those who endorse it. One recent example was Shohreh Bayat who oversaw a match at the Women’s World Chess Championship without the scarf. Now she is afraid to return home, concerned that the country or her family will make an example of her.

A Spiritual Issue

Joanne Doyle with Not Forgotten explains the situation.

“Sadly, what we see happening, what really took place in 1979, when the revolution took over in Iran, [was] these women have been silenced. They have been pushed in the darkness, they have been cloaked in veils by force, and they are finally saying ‘Enough, enough.’”

Doyle continues, “One thing I’ll add is, this is really more of a spiritual issue than it is a political issue. Although it, you know, plays out on the political field, it really is a spiritual issue.”

And the issue is not just in Islam. Doyle reflects on Genesis 3 where God punished Adam and Eve for their willful sin against Him. At this time He also punished the devil. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15 ESV).

Doyle elaborates on that verse, “But I think specifically his attack is against women. Because that verse in verse 15 in chapter three goes on to say that the offspring of woman would bruise his head and destroy him. And of course, the offspring is Jesus. And so that’s why the battle is really more specifically against women. And that’s why it’s more spiritual than it is just political.”

Join in Prayer

So the battle rages on. Iranian women stand up against the lies that they are less than, and those who dare to defy the social regulations are punished. It can feel hopeless, but God is a God of hope.

Doyle encourages people to pray for Iranian women. “And I would also pray for these year women trapped in Islam in Iran, so many of them that are seeking to be brave and bold and to speak truth are being persecuted, being sent to prison and we know a lot of the prisons Evin prison for example, in Iran, they are notorious. They are horrific. The torture that people endure is horrible. So pray that God would surround them and protect them so that they have the opportunity to respond to faith in Jesus Christ.”

Pray also that God would work in the dreams of Iranian women. Many Muslim background people have come to Christ after meeting Jesus in dreams and visions. Pray that God would reveal Himself to women trapped in cycles of fear and pain and show them the only path to true freedom is found in Jesus.

Learn more about Not Forgotten here.


Header photo courtesy of s1ingshot on Flickr

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