The Iranian government announced earlier this year that it was clamping down on online modelling – and recent news shows it is sticking to its vow.
Twelve models have just been jailed for violating the country’s Islamic decency code by posing without hijabs and “spreading obscenity”.
The models, eight of whom are female along with four men, have been handed prison sentences ranging from 12 months to six years.
The defendants were charged by the Shiraz court with “encouraging moral degradation” and “exhibiting Western fashion online and on social media”, according to Al Arabiya.
The Iranian Labour News Agency also reported that those jailed will not be allowed to travel for two years after serving their sentence, nor will they be allowed to hold fashion-related jobs.
The government has undertaken a two-year sting operation, nicknamed Spider II, on those who post pictures and selfies online without wearing the hijab (the covering has been compulsory in Iran since 1979).
The operation identified 170 people running Instagram pages that breached rules, with Javad Babaei, head of Iran’s cybercrimes court, revealing that “about 20 per cent of the (country’s) Instagram feed is run by the modelling circle”.
“[They have been] making and spreading immoral and un-Islamic culture and promiscuity,” he added.
In May, eight people were arrested and criminal cases were opened against 21 others.
Iranian Model, Elham Arab, answering to Tehran attorney for posting her pictures without scarf on Instagram pic.twitter.com/y1CSM4FrYQ
— potkin azarmehr (@potkazar) May 16, 2016
One of the arrestees, model Elham Arab, told courts at the time that “all humans are interested in admiring beauty and becoming famous”.
“But they must first consider at what cost and what they will lose in return. For an Iranian film star they may not lose much but for a model she will certainly lose her hijab and honour,” she said.
The identities of the 12 models just jailed is not yet known, however according to reports those arrested back in May include Melikaa Zamani, Niloofar Behboudi, Donya Moghadam, Dana Nik and Shabnam Molavi.
Make-up artist Elnaz Golrokh, who regularly posed without a hijab, and her husband Hamid Fadaei fled Iran for Dubai amid the clampdown.
“Unfortunately for the moment I will not be active in Iran, but I will continue my work outside Iran,” said Golrokh, who was not detained, in a statement.
“Thanks for your support and your positive energy. I love you.”