Models Who Posted Pictures Online Jailed in Iran for 'Spreading Prostitution'

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Models wearing various styles of Islamic dress, created by Iranian designers and presented during a fashion show in Tehran, Iran, July 22, 2006.
Models wearing various styles of Islamic dress, created by Iranian designers and presented during a fashion show in Tehran, Iran, July 22, 2006Credit: Hasan Sarbakhshian/AP

Iran has jailed eight female models and four male models for "spreading prostitution" by uploading pictures to the web, the BBC reported.

Iranian news agency Ilna reported that the models received sentences ranging from five months to six years. Additionally, they were forbidden from working in the fashion industry and will be banned from traveling abroad for two years after their release.

They were also convicted on charges of promoting corruption via the publication of obscene images online, inciting Muslims to corrupt themselves through putting on fashion shows, and spreading a "Western-style culture of nudity," the BBC reported. The models deny the charges and plan to appeal their sentences.

The prosecutor of Tehran's cybercrimes court announced in May the arrest of eight other people involved in posting photographs of women without headscarves on social media, which the judiciary has described as "un-Islamic" behavior. They were also accused of working outside the traditional fashion industry.

The arrests are part of a policy the Islamic regime launched last spring, levying heavy sanctions on anyone working without a permit from the state's fashion industry supervisor. The industry has flourished over the past two years, following the declaration by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that Islam does not forbid modeling.

Fifteen fashion weeks have been held in various Iranian cities during the past two years, and independent designers enjoyed growth in their businesses. The state decided to allow them to work under various limitations, under state supervision, in order to verify whether models were violating Sharia law.

But fashion industry workers under supervision have been burdened with severe bans, among them the ban on women walking without a headscarf since 1979.

Iran's fashion regulatory body, Islamic Guidance's Fashion and Clothing Regulation Workgroup, issues licenses to work in modeling. Models also have to carry a special identity card wherever they go.

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