A spokesperson for Iran’s committee overseeing the enforcement of its moral values has clarified that the country’s “morality” police have been abolished but said authorities will keep enforcing the mandatory hijab law and punishing violations, according to Reuters.
His comment come after Iran’s attorney general suggested on Dec. 1 that the “morality” police had been shut down, which the government didn’t confirm, sparking confusion.
Iran’s attorney general, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, had made the announcement at a conference aimed to discuss the recent protests on Thursday Dec. 1.
“The morality police had nothing to do with the judiciary and have been shut down from where they were set up,” he said, according to the BBC.
State media then reported that his statement was “taken out of context” and added that it is the interior ministry that overlooks the police force and not the judiciary.
On Monday Dec. 5, a spokesperson from the committee that oversees the enforcement of moral values said that the “morality” police had been disbanded, but the country’s strict dress code for women would remain, Reuters reported.
“Decisions are being made to confront those violations of hijab by a small group of women… officials cannot remain indifferent towards these violations,” the spokesperson said, according to Reuters.
He said that the government will now discuss ways to implement the laws with “newer, more updated and detailed methods,” and whether the “morality” police will take another form.
Iran residents have reported hardly seeing any “morality” police on the streets, but other police units have continued to use unnecessary force and arrest women, according to the New York Times.
Iranian women’s rights activists have also pushed back against the announcement, saying that women continue to face arrests.
Others have called the move a PR stunt by the government.
The so-called “morality” police were created in 1979 to enforce the country’s mandatory hijab law and other restrictions from the Morality and Chastity Law, such as not attending mixed-gender gatherings without a male chaperone and drinking alcohol.
The “morality” police have used unnecessary force, intimidation and verbal abuse on women and girls, according to reports from Iranian women and human rights groups.