A week to the vote to oust Iran from the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), there are serious concerns about the premature and inaccurate media coverage on the abolition of the morality police affecting the vote. The commission aims to promote gender equality and empower women.

The initial speculation was that the vote will go ahead in favour of the resolution to oust Iran, despite some prior hesitancy. However, over last weekend, international media have embraced an ambiguous and conflicting statement of the Islamic Republic’s Prosecutor General on disbanding the morality police. The influence of the media is vast and could sway the vote in favour of the Islamic Republic. Some have suggested the timing of this announcement was a deliberate propaganda move.

On the 14th of December, the 54 members of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) will vote on the resolution that would remove with immediate effect the Islamic Republic of Iran from the CSW for the remainder of its term. The United States tailored a draft resolution, highlighting the fact that Iran’s laws and policies are flagrantly contrary to the human rights of women and girls and to the mandate of the CSW, in the context of the current uprising.

The ambiguous remark was made by Iran’s Prosecutor General, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, in a statement on December 3rd:

“The ‘morality police’ (gasht-e ershad) has nothing to do with the judiciary and it was closed by whichever [body] that established it in the past… The judiciary will continue to regulate people’s behaviour in society.”

It seems that media have undermined the latter part of the statement, which indicates that the regime will continue to enforce compulsory hijab laws. Not abiding by hijab laws is still a punishable offence according to Iran’s criminal code.

In fact, the presence of morality police has decreased significantly for weeks, replaced by other security forces beating, arresting, injuring, and killing protestors and bystanders. Accounts of punishments for non-compliance of hijab rules continue to be told. There have been instances of women and girls being expelled from schools and universities, as well as fired from workplaces.

Compulsory hijab laws are not the only gender discriminatory laws and policies in Iran, but only a part of a long list of gender apartheid rules.

While it is true that protests began with the death of Mahsa Amini under the custody of the morality police, the uprising has always been about dismantling a regime devoid of any respect for human rights. Over 400 lives have been lost for exercising the basic right of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. The perpetrators directly responsible for these deaths enjoy absolute impunity while thousands of protestors languish in prison under torture. Many are children and some await execution.

Even if the morality police were to truly be abolished, the Islamic Republic of Iran has no place in CSW. The state members of ECOSOC are respectfully encouraged to not allow the influence of the propaganda, stand on the right side of history and vote in favour of the proposed resolution.

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To read more on how the international community can stop the bloodshed in Iran, see our previous policy recommendations: