Iran has abolished its morality police, a top official reportedly said, after months of protests set off by the death of a woman who was taken into custody for allegedly violating the country’s dress code.
Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri announced the decision at a religious conference on Sunday when asked if the morality police, tasked with enforcing Iran’s Islamic dress code, would be disbanded, according to BBC Persian. Iranian state media outlets reported the news late Saturday night.
“The morality police had nothing to do with the judiciary and have been shut down from where they were set up,” he said.
The report stressed that control of the force sits within the jurisdiction of the interior ministry, and other agencies have not confirmed the fate of the morality police.
Such a change would be a victory for women leading protests that have rocked Iran following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after she was arrested by the morality police in Tehran in mid-September for allegedly violating the country’s hijab rules, part of a strict dress code imposed for men and women after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The protests, deemed “riots” by authorities in Iran, have been marked by demonstrators burning their hijabs and shouting anti-government slogans, according to AFP. There have also been rallies in other countries in solidarity with the Iranian demonstrators.
More than 300 people have been killed during the unrest, one Iranian general recently estimated, though activists say the numbers are higher and thousands of people have been detained, per the Associated Press.
Patrols by the morality police began in 2006, though wearing a hijab has been mandatory for women since 1983.
Despite the apparent concession this weekend, Montazeri said the judiciary would continue to enforce “social behavior” restrictions, according to The New York Times.