All the women I’ve talked to, who I’ve asked about their outfit, have told me that they’re scared: they don’t know if the vice police might be waiting around the next corner or if they’re being recorded by surveillance cameras and they won’t be tried for dress code violations for weeks or months.
This fear is there – and it is justified. Because this regime shows again and again that it is not willing to change anything. The laws are constantly being tightened against women, there is no will to approach the people in the country and the Iranians know that too.
But then what is the truth behind the news from December 2022 that the moral police abolished would become?
Unfortunately, this is not true. Iran’s Attorney General Monterzeri had absolutely no authority to disband the Vice Police because they are part of the Interior Ministry. It was always clear to us that if the Gasht-e Ershad (moral police) were to be abolished, they would simply get a new name or a new uniform.
When I was last in Iran, you didn’t see the moral police on the streets anymore, but that doesn’t mean anything either, because women can be monitored digitally.
We know the pictures from Tehran. But did the protest really cover the whole of Iran, this huge country?
Iran has more than 85 million inhabitants, but it is an urban country, which means that the majority of the people, around 70 percent, live in the cities. Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz, Tabriz are the major conurbations. During my last visit in January 2023, I wasn’t allowed to leave Tehran, but I’ve been around the country a lot in recent years – and the dissatisfaction with the leadership can be felt everywhere, especially among the women.
I remember a trip before the last presidential election in 2021, where I met mostly women. It didn’t matter whether the woman worked as a rice farmer or an architect and where she lived – all women were consistently dissatisfied. In the meantime, a large part of the population has recognized that without women’s rights, nobody is free in the country.