Iran Without a Morality Police: Women’s Triumph and the Beginning of the Regime’s Fall?

The Iranian government announces the end of the morality police after months of protests. Will this be the beginning of the end for the Ayatollah and the latest triumph of Islamic feminism?

morale police patrol

Photo: Ebrahim Noroozi

LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

Escucha este artículo

Leer en español: Irán sin policía de la moral: ¿Triunfo de las mujeres iraníes y el inicio de la caída del régimen?

Several weeks ago, the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old girl, who was detained by the morality police for allegedly wearing the veil incorrectly, caused shock in Iran and the world. Amini died while in the hands of the morality police and caused the largest protests in recent Iranian history. A country with a particularly oppressive government found itself with non-stop protests throughout the entire national territory.

It wasn't until last weekend that Iran's attorney general, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, announced, at a press conference, the end of the morality police. It is an instrument of repression against any dissonant voice before the theocratic regime of Iran, particularly women.

However, the protesters are not claiming victory. The voices are of mistrust and uncertainty. There is mistrust that even, if the dismantling of the morality police were carried out, the authorities could continue to enforce strict dress regulations, norms that the morality police had previously developed.

Several protesters insist on remaining calm, since the announcement by Jafar Montazeri, a member of the judiciary, may not be effective when the morality police are part of the Ministry of the Interior.

It is precisely for these moments that the leaders of the demonstrations ask to maintain the protests. Many want structural changes, the abolition of repressive policies and even a change in the theocratic government, where the top leader is the Ayatollah, even above the president. The protests themselves appear to be threatening the foundations of the Islamic republic, which appears to be thirsty for change and crying out for freedom.

Also read: It is not only Qatar. Rights-violating countries that want to host the next World Cups

This is why abolishing Islamic norms (such as dress codes), however small they may seem, will go a long way. Iran is an Islamic republic, where religion not only orders the private life of its citizens, but also public life and all aspects of the state. Abolishing the wearing of the veil by women would mean going against a sharia commandment. This would open the door to much deeper changes, including the formation of the State, in which the president and any political figure are under the mandate of the religious leader: the Ayatollah.

What Is the Morality Police?

Despite what many may believe, the morality police is a relatively new body in Iran. Although it was created in 1979, it was not until 2005 that it was established as it is known today. However, before 79 the reality was very different. Under the reign of the last shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Iranian women could dress freely. Even Reza Shah, Mohammad's father, had banned the wearing of Islamic veil. The life of Iranian society (mainly urban) was similar to any Western country. It wasn't until the Islamic revolution and the revival of the Ayatollah that reality changed.

The morality police is a unit attached to the Iranian Ministry of the Interior, created after the Islamic revolution in 1979. Since then, it has undergone several changes and transformations. However, since 2006 it has been known as Gasht-e Ershad (translated to guidance police) and patrols the streets of Iran looking for women wearing shorts, ripped jeans or any other clothing that is considered immodest. Within this, there is also wearing the veil properly, which means on the head, to comply with Islamic regulations. Likewise, it patrols seeking compliance with Islamic codes of conduct, such as not mixing men and women.

Although Iran's morality police are supposed to enforce Sharia, or Islamic law, which has certain requirements for both men and women, the Gasht-e Ershad traditionally only persecutes and punishes women.

When this police force decides that a woman violates the moral codes (many times with a large field for interpretation), they arrest the offender and, in some cases, send them to an education and counseling center, or to a police station. .

Although the moral police are not common in most Muslim countries, there are a few that have their version. Cases like the Taliban's Afghanistan, Malaysia, northern Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Sudan all have their Sharia enforcement body, but with differences in their method, power, and scope.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button