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Tuesday, 10 October, 2000, 15:20 GMT 16:20 UK
Women police on parade in Iran
Women police officers
The women will work mainly work in crime prevention
Tehran saw a parade of 100 police officers on Monday that was the first of its kind since the Islamic revolution of 1979 - the officers were women and were dressed in black chadors, traditional Islamic dress covering the entire body.

Carrying sub-machine guns, the women - the first to be trained at the police college - marched past the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The new recruits will work mainly in crime prevention, but are also likely to be involved in carrying out body searches of female suspects, which male police officers are not allowed to do.

Most professions in Iran are open to women, who outnumber men at universities, but they are required to cover their heads and body. The chador is obligatory dress in some government departments.

The parade also include several thousand men, a number of whom received gifts from the Ayatollah, among them the wrestler Ali Reza Dabir, who won a gold medal at the Olympic Games in Sydney.

More equality

Correspondents say women in Iran have gained more equality in recent years, although there are still many unresolved issues.

Women candidates
A record number of women stood in the last election
Earlier this year, Islamic religious leaders in Iran lifted a ban on women leading prayers, enabling them to lead congregations of women worshippers for the first time.

The change in law and practice was seen as a major victory for the women's movement in Iran, where the clergy has traditionally been one of the main bastions of male privilege.

A record number of women candidates also stood in Iran's recent elections.

Women have played a central role in the reform movement which helped bring President Mohammad Khatami to power in 1997, and whose representatives now dominate the Iranian parliament.

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See also:

01 Aug 00 | Middle East
Iranian women to lead prayers
23 Feb 00 | Middle East
Iranian women seek equality
08 Sep 99 | Middle East
Iranian women get image boost
03 Mar 99 | Middle East
Iran's women show political muscle
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