Threatened with ‘acid, rape, abuse’

Protesting Iran’s compulsory hijab law

A young woman stands on top of a utility box, holding a white headscarf aloft in front of a crowd of one-eyed monsters.

The scene comes from an animated video created by Samin*, a 32-year-old motion graphics animator from Tehran, with the help of her boyfriend, an illustrator.

*Name has been changed to protect identity

Together the couple have been protesting Iran’s compulsory hijab rule with their art.

Since we are artists, our language is our form of protest. We are hopeful that our videos can provide a voice for Iranian women.


At least 33 people have been arrested for taking part in protests against the hijab law since late December, when a wave of anti-government demonstrations gave way to a public outcry over gender inequality.


It’s not clear how widespread support for the movement is in Iran, which is still considered freer for women than many of its Islamic neighbors.

Iranian women can drive, vote, hold most jobs, and are among the most highly educated in the Middle East.

Many women protested after the arrest of Vida Mohavedi, a 31-year-old mother who was arrested for protesting without her headscarf in a busy Tehran street.


A video of Mohavedi standing on a utility box and waving her veil like a flag went viral on social media in late December, in part because it was shared by an Iranian woman living in exile in the US.

Salampix/Abaca Press/SIPA USA

The video was the inspiration for Samin’s animation.

The threat of arrest can keep some women from voicing their views in the streets, but behind the anonymity of social media, they say they will keep speaking out.