Four hundred fully trained female officers recently joined the police force in Tehran, Iran. Women have not been in the police force since the Iranian Revolution in 1979. For the past twenty years women have been serving behind the scenes in the police field, mostly in administrative work. These new officers will mainly be investigating crimes against women and children, according to the BBC.
The policewomen are between 17 and 23 years old. For the last three years they have been undergoing training in firearms, judo, laying mines and fencing. They were not trained in the use of heavy machine guns or grenade launchers, as that training is still reserved for men only, BBC reports.
Allowing women to become police officers is among several steps that have been taken in Iran to broaden women’s rights since the 1997 election of the President Mohammad Khatami. A ban on unmarried women studying abroad was repealed in 2001. Last week, Iran ended its practice of imposing the harsh sentence of stoning as a form of capital punishment for women. Also, Iran’s Guardian Council, a hard-line conservative force in Iran, approved a bill in December broadening women’s divorce rights–a right that has been severely limited since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Elsewhere in the region a similar trend is gaining ground. Afghan government officials last week announced the reintroduction of female cadets to the Kabul police academy. In Bangladesh, the first batch of female army officers was also dispatched last week.