Iranian journalist Pune Aştiyan revealed to Mezopotamya News Agency’s (MA) Berivan Kutlu that the Geşt-i Îrşad (Morality Police), temporarily absent from the streets due to the regime’s focus on suppressing protests, have not only been brought back to public spaces but have also significantly increased in number.
“The Tehran Municipality, a non-police institution now run by an Islamist supporting the government, announced that 400 people were hired in the so-called Hijab Ban, or Veil Care Unit. These individuals are kept with a base salary of 12 million Toman to beat and arrest women who do not wear headscarves. 12 million Toman is more than the salary of all other municipal employees,” she said.
According to Aştiyan, after the killing of Jîna (Mahsa) Amini, the Iranian regime was forced to withdraw morality police, only to redeploy them last month to ensure compliance with Sharia law. Their primary targets are women and girls, especially those not adhering to the mandatory hijab. The patrols, notorious for their violence against women, have resumed their duties nationwide.
“Various videos of Geşt-i Îrşad’s violence against women have been published many times. These videos included images of young women and girls being verbally abused by police forces. These women were beaten, dragged on the ground. Videos were even published of young women being caught with a ‘live catch’ device used to catch animals,” Aştiyan said.
Aştiyan further explained that the regime’s priority was not the hijab but the suppression of protests. “The story of Jîna’s tragic death exhausted the society’s patience. The streets turned into a protest area, and potentially the most serious protests in the last 40 years erupted all over the country. Therefore, the activities of the morality police were temporarily stopped. The police’s place was later taken by special police teams. Their duty was to suppress public demonstrations and meetings. The morality police were not on the streets because there was almost no need for them. The regime’s priority was not the hijab, but the suppression of actions,” she stated.
Following the protests, the government quickly enacted the “Protection of Chastity and Hijab Culture” law. Aştiyan reminded, “The regime wanted to legalise the police’s behaviour towards women and girls with this law. The government has no popular base or supporters. It has lost its popular base. Its only way is to create fear and terror in people through oppressive, violent behaviour.”
Despite all the pressures, Iranian women are not afraid and continue to resist. Aştiyan emphasised, “Iranian women are resisting in their daily lives. Sociologists say that resistance in everyday life is one of the most effective and institutional resistance methods. Women use civil disobedience to oppose the government. Many women do not wear or even carry a headscarf, go out in short skirts, shorts, and publish their photos. Iranian women are not afraid.”
Highlighting the organised resistance since Jîna Amini’s killing, Aştiyan concluded, “There was always resistance, but after the killing of Jîna Amini, women became more organised. Generally, I must say; Iranian women are now fighting and resisting in every area of their lives. Although the Iranian government’s power to suppress its people is very high due to its ruthlessness and use of all means against the people, women still do not surrender. Iranian women say that this country will never return to the situation before Jîna Amini’s death.”