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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 October, 2003, 21:57 GMT 22:57 UK
Iran's policewomen return to the beat

By Miranda Eeles
BBC correspondent in Tehran

Policewomen in Iran will soon be joining their male counterparts and working on the beat in Tehran.

At their graduation ceremony on Saturday they trooped in front of President Khatami together with thousands of male police officers.

It is the first time since the 1979 revolution that women have graduated from the police training college to become fully trained officers.

Police women at their graduation ceremony
Policewomen have not been on the beat for 25 years
Swearing allegiance to the Islamic Republic and to the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, more than 200 policewomen gathered on the outskirts of the Iranian capital to attend their graduation ceremony.

They were dressed in smart black, green and gold chadors, the Islamic garment which covers women from head to toe.

Some carried guns while others held ceremonial swords.

Twenty-four year-old Susan Jejod Nejad said it was one of the best days of her life:

"Today I'm so happy because after three years I'm graduating and now I know how to shoot... and all the things that a real policewoman is, I know it".

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

Aged between 17 and 25 they have taken intensive military courses, including judo, fencing, using firearms and laying mines.

It has been nearly 25 years since women have played such an active role.

After the revolution women in the police worked mostly in administration.

Now, with the easing of restrictions and with more and more crimes being committed by women, the government decided it was necessary to have policewoman back on the beat.

There has been much speculation about what they will wear.

Reports say rather than the all-encompassing chador, their uniform will consist of trousers and a long coat. The new recruits are expected to start their duties immediately.


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