Iran impounds thousands of women’s cars for “improper” hijabs

Red light.
Red light.
Image: Reuters/Khaled Abdullah
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Since March, Iranian traffic police have seized more than 40,000 cars from women driving while “improperly” wearing their hijab, or headscarf, reports Agence France Presse.

A spokesperson for the traffic police told the AFP that most of the cases have been referred to the judiciary, and in some cases, women drivers have faced fines or received warnings for their “bad hijab.” This comes after Iranian police warned last month that women could risk having their cars impounded for a week if caught driving without a hijab, or wearing a hijab that shows too much hair.

The Guardian reported that the warning was part of a “wider traffic police crackdown” on all drivers—male and female—and that men could also face violations for driving recklessly and harassing women.

The hijab—a loose headscarf used to cover the head and neck—is compulsory in Iran for all women, including foreigners. However, since the 1990s, restrictions around the hijab have eased, allowing women to incorporate color into their wardrobe.

But women are allowed to drive in Iran, unlike in neighboring Saudi Arabia. In the capital of Tehran, woman-run company Women’s Taxis staffs hundreds of female drivers, providing an alternative for women who feel uncomfortable with male drivers, and making it easier for those who don’t drive to get to work (with written permission from their husbands).