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Will women be joining riot police ranks in Iran?
A women's unit is being created for Iran's riot police, Brigadier General Hassan Karami told the country's semi-official Mehr News agency.
Karami said the new contingent has received approval and “the missions for the female unit in the Riot Police have been defined according to operations in investigation, in-action, arrest, transport, and interrogation sections," according to Mehr.
Karami said officials hope the new contingent will be ready by this spring. The report, however, could not independently confirmed.
The move may be part of the expected amped-up security efforts ahead of this summer's presidential election. The country's disputed 2009 presidential election saw mass protests rivaling the size of street demonstrations that swept Iran's ruling theocracy to power in 1979.
Many female protesters were at the forefront of Iran's 2009 unrest, and this new women's unit may be meant to deal with a similar situation in an effort to minimize charges of sexual harassment or other violations on the part of the authorities.
Women in Iran have been subject to conflicting state policies when it comes to their role in society over the past several decades, and the ruling government does not afford them the same basic rights as men.
Today many women are highly-educated but under-employed, subject to more career restrictions than their male counterparts -- they are barred from influential judicial positions, for example. In August, the government prohibited women from pursuing some 70 university degrees, among them English literature, English translation, hotel management, archeology, nuclear physics, computer science, electrical engineering, industrial engineering and business management, according to The Telegraph. Aside from these sorts of restrictions, women are also closely monitored for infractions against the Islamic Republic's strict regulations on dress and behavior.
The changing face of women in Iran can be seen in this all-female photo series of newly-discovered images published Sunday in The Guardian.