An Iranian woman filmed waving her hijab on a stick in an iconic image captured during an apparent protest against the Islamic Republic late last year is feared to have been arrested.
The woman, dubbed the “Girl of Enghelab Street,” is 31 and has a 19-month-old baby, according to an Iranian human rights lawyer who Sunday visited the neighborhood in Tehran where the protest was staged.
“What I am certain about is that this lady has been arrested,” Nasrin Sotoudeh told the AFP on Monday. “The witnesses on the scene who saw her being taken away -- and even accompanied her to the police station -- gave me this information. I have no contact with her family.”
The woman is believed to have demonstrated on Dec. 27 and was seen waving around a white headscarf, apparently in reference to the growing “White Wednesday” protest campaign in Iran, the AFP added.
The campaign was started in 2014 by My Stealthy Freedom, which describes itself as an “online social movement where Iranian women share photos of themselves without wearing the hijab."
“Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979 women in Iran have had to cover their hair in public, but many Iranian women and men feel that wearing a hijab in public should be a personal choice,” the MSF website adds.
The woman has not been seen in public since she appeared in the video, AFP reported, but the claim was not independently verifiable. Social media users, though, have been spreading her image using the hashtag phrase “#WhereIsShe”.
Sotoudeh told the AFP the woman appeared “at the end of (her) tether because of all the controls placed on her body over the 31 years of her life.”
“Women feel they have no control over their bodies. It is a prelude to infringing on all of their rights,” she added.
Women who violate Iran’s Islamic legal code, which requires them to wear headscarves and clothes that cover the arms and legs, are subject to up to two months in prison, AFP reported.
Iran in late December, however, reportedly said it was going to take a softer stance on the code.
“According to a decision of the commander of the police force, those who do not observe Islamic codes will no longer be taken to detention centers nor judicial files opened on them,” Brigadier Gen. Hossein Rahimi was quoted by local media as saying during a speech in Tehran.
Iran in recent weeks has been rocked by protests aimed at the country's leadership, with massive groups gathering to decry the economic and other hardships suffered by the populace.