[Press release] Iranian Human Rights NGO Relaunches App That Helps Citizens Avoid ‘Morality Police’

Mar 8, 20220 comments

Gershad, Initially Launched Anonymously in 2016, Will Feature New Tools, Improvements

IRAN – Today, United for Iran, a Bay-Area NGO working to promote civil liberties and civil society in Iran is announcing the re-launch of Gershad, an app helping Iranian activists, journalists, and civil society organizations to avoid the Islamic Republic’s Morality Police. Gershad is a crowd-sourced phone app with reporting features similar to Waze, allowing users to securely view and report the location of moral police checkpoints in real-time.

Gershad initially launched anonymously in February 2016, but due to safety and privacy precautions, United for Iran and partner [NAME] withheld their involvement. It has since been downloaded over 100,000 times, including an additional 30,000 Telegram bot users, and has totaled over 1,700 hours of use. 

SEE HOW THE APP WORKS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTn8vpOvnM0

According to research, the morality police stop three million Iranians each year, prosecuting 18,000 people, 90% of whom are women. ”Violations” include wearing improper hijab or walking with a male friend, among other encroachments on basic human rights and liberties.

While Gershad has prevented many arrests, and thus reduced the number of human rights violations in Iran, its greatest contribution has been its role in shifting the perspective on forced hijab. The compulsory hijab is the most widespread human rights violation in Iran and has severe penalties.

Gershad has been instrumental in challenging compulsory hijab and strengthening Iranian women’s actions and has also offered a basic, yet powerful platform for Iranian men to be better allies in standing up for women’s rights.

“Since Gershad’s launch, we have received powerful feedback about the role the app has played in helping to protect basic human rights and liberties, allowing Iranians to unite in an unprecedented way, preventing arrests, and providing a platform for people to express how humiliating it is to deal with the morality police,” said Firuzeh Mahmoudi, executive director of United for Iran. “In re-launching the app, we hope to continue to build upon its success, challenging even more of the Islamic Republic’s medieval laws and freedoms that infringe upon everyday freedom and expression. The power of civic tech to evolve Iran’s antiquated culture of repression is infinite when used to collectively share information and give voice to the millions of Iranians fighting for a better, freer future.”