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Social Media Campaign Launched to Locate Woman Feared Arrested by Iran for Protesting Hijab

A social media campaign has taken off to identify and locate an Iranian woman who was filmed waving a hijab from a pillar box in Tehran—a punishable offense in the Islamic Republic—who has gone missing, The BBC reported on Tuesday.

The news outlet said that renowned human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh confirmed to them on Monday earlier reports of her arrest on December 27. According to her, the woman is 31 years old and mother of a 19-month-old child.

A video of the woman, whose identity remains unknown, was widely shared on social media during anti-government protests in recent weeks. She protested against Iran’s strict modesty dress code, in place since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, which dictates that women need to cover their hair in public.

The woman is thought to have staged the protest on December 27, a day before violent demonstrations broke out across the country, but has not been seen since, sparking fears that she may have been arrested.

“Our investigations confirm that the young woman, whose name we still do not know, was arrested on that very same day,” Sotoudeh wrote on Facebook on Sunday, along with a picture from the same location where the woman was first arrested. She added: “She was released shortly afterwards but was arrested once again.”

Sotoudeh further told AFP that “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.” She continued: “Women feel they have no control over their bodies. It is a prelude to infringing all their rights.”

People have shared the image of the missing woman along with the hashtag ‘#Where_is_She?’ and demanded that Iranian officials release information about her whereabouts. The hashtag has been used more than 28,000 times on Twitter and across other social media platforms.

The image of the solitary woman standing above a crowd waving her hijab has become the cover photo for Facebook account of the activist group, My Stealthy Freedom, which seeks to give Iranian women the right to choose whether or not to wear head coverings.

[Photo: My Stealthy Freedom / Facebook]