An app promising to help Iranians get around the morality police was quickly shut down

The World

If you live in Iran, you know about the morality police — the Gasht-e-Ershad.

The group was set up after the Islamic Revolution to make sure Islamic guidelines were followed in the Iranian society. Their agents are notorious for cracking down on anyone who doesn't adhere to Islamic dress codes or behavior.

"There are a variety of things that you can get into trouble for," says Feranak Amidi of the BBC Persian.

For example women can be stopped because of the way they wear their headscarves, or because of the color or tightness of their manteau — the coat-like clothing Iranian women wear in public.

Mixed parties and possession of alcohol could also bring trouble.

Amidi, who left Iran in 2009, recalls her own brush with the morality police. She was a 20-something in Tehran who loved to attend underground parties. Men and women would mingle in those parties and alcohol was served — not the kind of behavior tolerated by the Iranian government.

One night, the police raided the party and she was taken to jail. She and her friends spent the night and were released after being subjected to 10 lashes. The host of the party got 90.

Last week, a new app was released that could help users avoid the morality police. It's called Gershad and it was created by Iranians outside of Iran.

The app works by crowd sourcing its users. When they spot the morality police, they anonymously pin that location on a map which can be seen by others. That will serve as a warning to other users to avoid that location.

The Gershad app was blocked in Iran not long after its release, but its creators say they are not deterred and that they'll continue to work on it. They see it as a "form of non-violent resistance."

Amidi too believes that this is not the end of apps like Gershad.

"New things are going to pop up any minute," she says.