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 Saturday, 4 January, 2003, 22:08 GMT
Women set to join Iran police
Women police officers
The women have been training for three years

About 400 newly qualified policewomen will soon be joining their male counterparts, and working on the streets in Tehran.

It will be the first time since the revolution in 1979 that women will graduate from the police university and become fully trained officers.

Much time has been spent trying to decide what they will wear

In the past 20 years or so, women have mostly been restricted to working in administration.

The new recruits have been training since 1999 at a complex in Tehran.

Aged between 17 and 23 years old, they have spent the last three years attending intensive military courses, including judo, fencing, using firearms and laying mines.

The only courses still restricted to men are the use of heavy machine-guns and grenade launchers.

No chador

Since the early years of the revolution, women have only worked behind the scenes in the police force, mostly in administration, or to help their male colleagues conduct body searches of female suspects.

Women in the Revolutionary Guards
Women have a role in the armed forces

But because of the sensitive nature of the Islamic Republic - and with more and more crimes being committed by women, especially in the smuggling of goods - the government decided that it was necessary to have policewomen back on the beat.

The new officers will spend most of their time investigating crimes committed by women and children.

But if there is no male officer around, they will also be expected to tackle a male suspect.

Much time has been spent trying to decide what they will wear.

Taking inspiration from Islamic, European and African countries, they have finally come up with the Iranian solution.

Apparently they will not need to wear the cloak-like black chador - instead their uniform will consist of trousers and a long coat, and maybe even a ski suit, depending on the mission.

The new recruits are to graduate in March and are expected to be on the beat shortly afterwards.

See also:

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