What is Gershad?
Gershad is a mobile app that allows users to report and detour the location of the morality police and security forces.
Iran’s morality police, or Gasht Ershad, are the frontline enforcers of the IRI’s oppression against women. Every year, Iran’s morality police prosecute some 18,000 Iranian citizens for alleged crimes relating to their dress and behavior, and hundreds of thousands more are harassed and humiliated in the streets. Of those arrested and harassed, approximately 90% are women. Most recently, the morality police were involved in the murder of Mahsa (Jina) Amini, whose death sparked a wave of protests from September 2022 onward.
As a feminist organization, U4I has long recognized the vital importance of women’s liberty and bodily autonomy, so in 2016 we launched Gershad as a way to help Iranians navigate public spaces without encountering morality police patrols. The app went viral instantly, receiving thousands of downloads in Iran and over 100 media hits in the first week. The app was so popular that we had to purchase new servers multiple times to support growing demand.
The Gershad app provides users with a map of different cities in Iran, along with real-time updates on the locations of morality police patrols. The app works on the basis of crowdsourcing and collective participation, becoming more accurate with greater cooperation and accuracy from the users themselves. Due to the sensitive nature of Gershad’s functions, the app was also built with privacy in mind. Gershad only uses user data in the moment that is essential for its functions and doesn’t store potentially compromising data over time.
Seven years later, Gershad is still active and is updated frequently to reflect the needs of our users. For example, during the Women, Life, Freedom protests in 2022, an option was added to IRI security forces on the map in addition to morality police patrols, in order to help citizens protect themselves and others from violent and repressive government forces. As IRI security forces change their strategies, Gershad changes with them.
Gershad is a project of United for Iran and ASL19.