The Iranian woman who captured hearts by standing on a pillar box in Tehran and waving her white hijab in protest is missing and feared to have been arrested.
The woman, whose identity is unknown, was captured on video waving her scarf while having her head uncovered in an apparent reference to the ‘White Wednesday’ protests against clothing restrictions on women in Iran.
Now, a renowned Iranian lawyer says that the brave woman has not been seen in public since her protest and has raised fears that she may have been arrested.
The mystery woman (pictured) was praised after a video of her standing on a pillar box without a headscarf went viral on social media
The woman has not been seen since the video of her standing on the pillar box on one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares, without a headscarf or long coat as required under Islamic law, went viral.
The video, widely shared on social media, showed her waving a white scarf in a solemn and brave protest.
The video and images of the woman are thought to have been taken on December 27, a day before economic protests broke out across the country, which helped the images go viral even though they were apparently unconnected.
In the footage, she could be seen waving a white scarf which appeared to be her own head covering and the brave woman is now missing, having not been since
Thousands of social media users have shared messages, dubbing her the ‘Girl of Enghelab Street’ after the area in central Tehran where she staged the protest, and using the hashtag ‘Where_is_she?’
Nasrin Sotoudeh, a famous human rights lawyer who has been arrested and barred from working on several occasions by authorities, said she went to Enghelab Street on Sunday to investigate.
Sotoudeh said could not find out the woman’s name, but was told she was 31 years old and had a 19-month-old baby.
‘What I am certain about is that this lady has been arrested,’ she told AFP.
‘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.’
Sotoudeh said the woman’s protest appeared to show someone ‘at the end of their 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 said.
The incident came on the same day that Tehran’s police chief indicated security forces were taking a softer line on Islamic rules.
It is unknown who the woman was but she is now missing with a lawyer saying she had been arrested for protesting against Iran’s clothing restrictions on women
Brigadier General Hossein Rahimi said in a speech in the Iranian capital: ‘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 centres nor judicial files opened on them.’
Under Iran’s Islamic legal code, women are required to wear a headscarf and long clothes that cover the arms and legs.
Breaking the rules can bring fines of up to 500,000 rials ($12) and up to two months in prison.
Mandatory headscarves for women have been a key symbol of Iran’s Islamic rule since the 1979 revolution
Sotoudeh accused the police of frequently going beyond the law.
She claimed: ‘Before even being tried by legal authorities, (women) are taken to a place called ‘Gasht-e Ershad’ [Guidance Patrol], where they can be harshly beaten up. Whether a case is opened for them or not is not important.
‘The illegal punishment they have had to bear has always been much more than what is foreseen in the law.’