Religious restrictions around the world often target women, who in many countries face censure because their clothing is considered too religious, or not religious enough. These restrictions frequently take the form of social harassment by individuals or groups, but also sometimes involve official government actions.

Women in 56 countries experienced social hostilities – that is, harassment from individuals or groups – due to clothing that was deemed to violate religious or secular dress norms, according to the sources analyzed for a recent study of 198 nations. Social harassment can range from verbal abuse to physical violence or killings motivated at least in part by the target’s religious identity; incidents for this measure took place between 2016 and 2018.

Meanwhile, women in 61 countries faced government restrictions on dress – specifically, regulations on their head coverings. This measure covers rules that were in place or incidents that occurred in 2018.

The number of countries where women faced social hostilities and government-imposed restrictions related to their dress has risen in the five most recent years of the study.