Countries that dictate what women should wear

“Don’t touch my clothes” was the resistance hashtag adopted by Afghan women after the Taliban made the hijab compulsory for female students in 2021.

The women shared their photos on social media dressed in colorful and vibrant traditional Afghan outfits to protest the Taliban decree.

In a similar act of defiance, female protesters are opposing Iran’s compulsory hijab law by removing their headscarves in public and cutting their hair.

The protests follow the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested for wearing tight pants and a loose headscarf (hijab) by Iranian vice police in Tehran. She later fell into a coma and died last week in police custody.

His death sparked worldwide protests and worldwide condemnation. It also highlighted the ways many states control what their citizens, especially women, can or cannot wear.

Besides Iran, here are other countries that restrict women and dictate their clothing choices.


The restriction of women’s freedom has been the most visible change in Afghanistan since the Taliban took power on August 15, 2021.

In May this year, Taliban-mandated women wear the burqa (a loose garment that covers the whole body and reveals only the eyes) when venturing out of the house. Women were also told not to leave their homes unless necessary.

The Taliban force women to wear the burqa in public. Photo from AFP file

The Taliban government has also banned women from traveling long distances without a male chaperone.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia requires women to dress “modestly”, and therefore tight clothing, sleeveless shirts, short dresses and sheer fabrics are not permitted.

Heavy makeup is also frowned upon, note The week.

The traditional abaya (a long, loose garment with a black headscarf or niqab) is worn by women in public.

However, this law was relaxed in 2018 and women could choose not to wear an abaya.

Mandatory hijab in Iran burqa banned in France Countries that dictate what women should wear

Saudi Arabia requires women to dress “modestly”, and therefore tight clothing is not permitted. Photo from AFP file

There is no such dictate for the dress of Saudi men, who typically wear a thobe (an ankle-length tunic that covers their arms). Men can choose their clothes as long as they hide their torsos and knees.

Dress code enforcement in Saudi Arabia was eased in 2016 when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “stripped the religious police of their powers of arrest, removing those responsible for enforcing the Saudi dress code”, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Mandatory hijab in Iran burqa banned in France Countries that dictate what women should wear

France, Iran, Saudi Arabia and North Korea are among the nations that dictate women’s clothing. Graphic: Pranay Bhardwaj

North Korea

Among North Korea’s many bizarre rules, such as a ban on watching foreign movies, its citizens’ clothing choices are also regulated.

To curb any form of Western influence, North Korea bans piercings, skinny jeans, and several hairstyles.

Women wearing skirts should ensure their knees are covered. According Initiatedthe country has stepped up its crackdown on tight jeans, dyed hair and other styles, which primarily target women.

The country’s Patriotic Socialist Youth League stops people on the roads, takes them to their office and only releases them after someone brings “acceptable” clothing, a source said. Radio Libre Asia.

“Youth league patrols are cracking down on young people who wear waist-length hair and those who dye their hair brown, as well as people who wear clothes with large foreign letters and women who wear tight pants,” the source said. quoted as saying by the US media nonprofit.

North Korea allows a list of hairstyles for its citizens – 18 for women and 10 for men, reports times now.


France prohibits Muslim women from wearing the full Islamic veil (burqa and niqab) in several public places, including streets, shops and hospitals.

The hijab is not allowed in public schools, middle schools and high schools. A law was passed in 2004 in France banning the wearing of religious symbols considered “visible” in schools, reports CNN.

The French football federation does not allow women wearing the hijab to compete in the sport. The ban sparked a backlash from many Muslim players.

Mandatory hijab in Iran burqa banned in France Countries that dictate what women should wear

The French football federation does not allow women wearing the hijab to compete in the sport. Photo from AFP file

“What we want is to be accepted as we are, to implement these great slogans of diversity, of inclusion,” said Founé Diawara, president of Hijabeuses, a group of young female footballers wearing the hijab.

“Our only desire is to play football,” Diawara said as quoted by The New York Times.

Other European nations

Other European countries, including the Netherlands, Denmark, Austria and Belgium, have banned the wearing of the full veil by Muslim women.

In the Netherlands, the ban also applies to full-face helmets and balaclavas, in addition to burqas, Deutsche Welle reports.

Bulgaria imposed a burqa ban in 2016.

Sorrento in Italy

In July this year, Italy’s famous tourist destination Sorrento banned bikinis, citing locals feeling “uncomfortable and uneasy”.

Although bikinis are allowed in pool or beach clubs, people are fined if seen walking around in swimsuits in other places like stores or restaurants, reports Mirror.

Some countries that have imposed rigid dress codes

Uganda had repealed its controversial anti-pornography law in 2021 under which mini-skirts were banned.

In 2019, Sudan repealed its “public order” law, which dictated how women dress and act in public.

The law allowed security forces to arrest women for ‘the most insignificant reasons’, such as wearing pants, not wearing the hijab in public or mingling with men, reports Egyptian streets.

With contributions from agencies

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