Iran's morality police may be disbanded, but Iranian women warn to look closer at motive

Many women in Iran view the disbanding as a tactic to calm uprisings and are wary of what's to come

By Kelly McClure

Nights & Weekends Editor

Published December 4, 2022 12:47PM (EST)

Protesters, including one woman holding up a headscarf, gather to demonstrate against the death of Mahsa Amini in Iran on September 23, 2022 in Berlin, Germany.
 (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Protesters, including one woman holding up a headscarf, gather to demonstrate against the death of Mahsa Amini in Iran on September 23, 2022 in Berlin, Germany. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Iran's attorney general, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, announced over the weekend that the country will be moving forward with the decision to disband their "morality police," which was tasked with enforcing strict Islamic dress code. 

This move comes in the wake of a young woman named Mahsa Amini being detained and killed in September for breaking said dress code by refusing to wear a hijab in public.

Following the death of Amini, whose non-government first name was Jîna, which means "life" in Kurdish, protests broke out in and outside of the Middle East as others took up her position of doing away with oppressive dress codes for women and there's suspicion that the disbanding of the morality police is nothing more than an attempt to quiet protestors, leaving Iranian women fearful of what's to come once attentions are diverted.

 "The morality police had nothing to do with the judiciary and have been shut down from where they were set up," Montazeri said in his statement on the disbanding of morality police. As BBC's coverage highlights, "control of the force lies with the interior ministry."

"Even the government saying the hijab is a personal choice is not enough," one Iranian woman said to BBC. "People know Iran has no future with this government in power. We will see more people from different factions of Iranian society, moderate and traditional, coming out in support of women to get more of their rights back."


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"It's disinformation that Islamic Republic of Iran has abolished its morality police. It's a tactic to stop the uprising," said Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad on Twitter. "Protesters are not facing guns and bullets to abolish morality police or forced hijab.They want to end Islamic regime."

"No, morality police has not been abolished in Iran. This is a fake story cooked up by the regime to make you think everything is over," said comedian and activist Chelsea Hart in her own tweet. "Western media is publishing propaganda with zero fact-checking. Dozens of people, including children, have now been executed in their silence."

Put into further perspective by Aljazeera writer Maziar Motamedi, "the morality police were just one very visible tool of implementing mandatory hijab," and "no senior official has seriously signaled in public that a major change in hijab laws could be implemented soon."


By Kelly McClure

Kelly McClure is a journalist and fiction writer who lives in New Orleans. She is Salon's Nights and Weekends Editor covering daily news, politics and culture. Her work has been featured in Vulture, The A.V. Club, Vanity Fair, Cosmopolitan, Nylon, Vice, and elsewhere. She is the author of Something is Always Happening Somewhere and the co-host of The Antler Queens podcast 

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