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Girls & Women

Iranian Teen Girl Arrested for Dancing in Instagram Video

Why Global Citizens Should Care
Gender equality is one of the UN’s Global Goals, and abolishing outdated, sexist ideas like “women should not dance” is essential to the continued efforts to empower girls and women everywhere. You can join us by taking action for gender equality here.

Instagram influencers may be akin to celebrities in the US, but in Iran they are increasingly treated like criminals.

A teen girl named Maedeh Hojabri was among a group of popular Instagram users recently arrested in the Islamic country for posting video content of herself dancing in her bedroom without a head scarf, the Guardian reports.

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"If you tell people anywhere in the world that 17- and 18-year-old girls are arrested for their dance, happiness, and beauty on charges of spreading indecency, while child rapists and others are free, they will laugh! Because for them, it's unbelievable!" wrote blogger Hossein Ronaghi in reaction to the news, the BBC reported.Other women throughout Iran have expressed their objection to the arrests by sharing videos of themselves dancing on social media platforms, including Twitter.

Read More: Iran Letting Women Watch World Cup May Not Have Been as Historic as We Thought

One Twitter user wrote: "I'm dancing so that they [the authorities] see and know that they cannot take away our happiness and hope by arresting teenagers and (girls like) Maedeh."

But this is not the first time Iran has cracked down on fancy footwork.

Earlier this year, an official was arrested when footage was revealed of a crowd of men and women dancing at a mall in Mashhad, and six more were arrested for dancing to Zumba in August.

In 2014, six young Iranians who shared an online video of themselves dancing to Pharrell Williams' hit song “Happy” in Tehran were given suspended sentences of up to one year in prison and 91 lashes.

Read More: An Iranian Woman Who Removed Her Hijab Was Sentenced to 2 Years in Prison

Following Hojabri’s arrest, she appeared on State TV with “her face blurred, crying and shaking while describing her motivation for producing the videos,” the Guardian reported.

“It wasn’t for attracting attention,” she said. “I had some followers and these videos were for them. I did not have any intention to encourage others doing the same … I didn’t work with a team, I received no training. I only do gymnastics.”