Human Rights

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Iran Imprisons 12 Fashion Industry Workers for “Spreading Prostitution”

Twelve people who work in the Iranian fashion industry were sentenced to up to six years in prison for “spreading prostitution,” the BBC reported Monday.

The twelve were convicted of spreading prostitution and promoting corruption by publishing images online that were considered obscene. They also were charged with causing Muslims to corrupt themselves by producing fashion shows and promoting a “Western-style culture of nudity.”

A lawyer involved in the case said that his clients were also banned from working in fashion or traveling abroad for two years. Some were also banned from photography or journalism.

Iranian authorities have been cracking down on “un-Islamic” behavior recently, especially by models and others who work in the fashion industry. In May, authorities arrested eight models who posted pictures of themselves on Instagram without head coverings. In July, police prevented a fashion show at the opening of a Levi’s store at a Tehran mall.

The crackdown has extended to people who work in other sectors. Over 30 Iranian students were given lashes earlier this year for dancing at a co-ed graduation party in the city of Qazvin. And a Tehran soccer player was arrested in June and suspended from playing soccer for six months for wearing SpongeBob SquarePants-themed pants. In October 2015, two Iranian poets were sentenced to jail and 99 lashes each for shaking hands with members of the opposite sex, and reports surfaced the following month that Iranian actress Sadaf Taherian was forced to flee the country after she posted pictures of herself with her hair uncovered on social media.

Despite promises to liberalize society when he ran for president in 2013, there has been no increase in freedoms under Hassan Rouhani. The New York Times reported in November 2015 that Iranians hoping that the nuclear deal would lead to a rapprochement with the West had been “jolted with a series of increasingly rude awakenings,” including increased anti-American activity and a further erosion of rights. The report was prompted by the arrests of several prominent Iranian journalists and businessmen with ties to the United States.

National elections in February resulted in hardliners consolidating their control over Iran’s parliament and the influential Assembly of Experts.

Saudi journalist Abdulrahman al-Rashed predicted last year that the nuclear deal would embolden Iran’s hardliners because they would “feel more confident, aware that foreign threats will have been neutralized and that no one will be able to confront them.”

[Photo: Alan / Flickr ]