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The Iranian government is planning to use facial recognition technology on public transport to identify women who are not complying with a strict new law on wearing the hijab, as the regime continues its increasingly violent crackdown on women’s dress.
According to The Guardian, secretary of Iran’s Headquarters for Promoting Virtue and Preventing Vice announced in a recent interview that the government was planning to use surveillance technology against women in public places following a new decree signed by the country’s president on restricting women’s clothing.
The decree was signed on August 15th, a month after the July 12th national “Hijab and Chastity Day”, which sparked countrywide protests by women who posted videos of themselves on social media with their heads uncovered on streets and on buses and trains. In recent weeks, the Iranian authorities have responded with a spate of arrests, detentions and forced confessions on television.
“The Iranian government has long played with the idea of using facial recognition to identify people who violate the law,” said Azadeh Akbari, a researcher at the University of Twente, in the Netherlands. “The regime combines violent ‘old-fashioned’ forms of totalitarian control dressed up in new technologies.”
Some of the women arrested for defying the new decree were identified after videos were posted online of them being harassed on public transport for not wearing the hijab properly. One, 28-year-old Sepideh Rashno, was arrested after a video circulated on social media of her being berated for “improper dress” by a fellow passenger, who was then forced off the vehicle by bystanders intervening on Rashno’s behalf. According to the human rights group Hrana, Rashno was beaten after her arrest and subsequently forced to apologize on television to the passenger who harassed her.
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