Gershad: An app to avoid Iran’s morality police

The makers of this app have set out to ease the psychological burden imposed by Iran’s morality police.

In an effort to make the people of Iran feel safer, app developers have created an app called Gershad. The crowdsourcing platform lets its users know what areas to avoid if they’re dodging the officers of the Gashte Ershad. Better known as the morality police, these officers are given a range of powers and dole out various punishments against Iranians who don’t dress and act in ways they deem appropriate.

Also known as the guidance patrol, the officers patrol the streets of Tehran to identify men and women who are in contravention of the Islamic code of conduct. According to reports in the media, women face the majority of these inspections and numerous video clips have surfaced showing women being beaten and dragged in the streets.

The offences an Iranian citizen can be charged for vary depending on the officer but women who wear too much makeup, or the wrong type of hijab have been detained and forced to appear at a tribunal. According to Good Magazine, men who wear western-style clothes or sport western haircuts are often stopped and potentially detained. Other offences include hugging a member of the other sex in public or any other behaviour deemed immoral.

The Gershad app allows Iranians to report sightings of the officers in and around the malls, streets or restaurants of Tehran. If enough people confirm the sighting, a little cartoon police officer appears in that section of the map, letting users know a Gashte Ershad checkpoint is active in that region.

"We know how embarrassing, humiliating and at times frightening it can be to be stopped by Ershad," one of Gershad's creators told The Verge in an email.

The identities of the app’s creators have remained a secret to protect them from government retaliation.

According to The Verge, the creators are considering bringing the app to various markets in the Middle East as many other Middle Eastern regions deal with morality officials in some capacity. The app is currently only available on Android but its producers are looking to launch it on iOS and Windows phone.

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