Iranian police have announced they will no longer arrest women in the capital of Tehran who violate Islamic dress code policies that were put in place after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Instead of bringing criminal charges against violators, Tehran will instead send women to a school for hijab and Islamic values.
“According to the commander of the NAJA [Law Enforcement Force of the Islamic Republic of Iran], those who do not observe Islamic values and have negligence in this area will no longer be taken to detention centers,” Hossein Rahimi, head of Greater Tehran police, said.
“A legal case will not be made for them and we will not send them to court; rather, education classes to reform their behavior will be offered.”
According to Rahimi, 121 classes have been held this year with 7,900 people in attendance.
Outside the capital, the conservative dress code remains in place.
Iranian police may also attempt to change their approach to enforcing social and religious values by adding 100 advisory centers and allowing 62,000 cases to be resolved without going to court.
“In addition to promoting security, the police will also be taking social measures to reform the behavior of citizens and reduce infractions and crimes,” Rahimi said.
In response to more serious crimes, though, the head of Tehran’s police said policies would not change.
“I should say that under no conditions will we compromise with people who disturb society,” Rahimi said.
Police in Iran who arrest women for violating the Islamic dress code, known as the Gasht-e Ershad or Guidance Police, often round up women and take them to police stations if they were spotted with loosely veiled hair, nail polish or short garments.
Some activists say, however, the reforms aren’t a sign of progress.
“They should understand that in this day and age, how women dress is none of their business,” Masih Alinejad, an Iranian activist, said. “This is a small victory but a victory nevertheless. But our true victory is when compulsory hijab is abolished.”
By Sara Shayanian