The United States said Monday it saw no signs that Iran was improving its treatment of women following reports that Tehran was scrapping its notorious morality police amid a wave of civil unrest.
The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini following her arrest and alleged assault by Iran's notorious morality police almost three months ago sparked the biggest protests in the Iranian republic in years.
Iran's prosecutor general was quoted at the weekend as saying the morality police units had been closed down, but campaigners voiced doubt that meaningful change was afoot and the move was not confirmed by the government.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, asked about the remarks, saluted the "incredibly courageous" protesters and said reports on the morality police were unclear.
"I don't know where exactly this is going to go but the main thing is this is about the aspirations of the Iranian people," Blinken told reporters during trade talks with the European Union in Washington's Maryland suburbs.
"This is about whether the regime will take those into account and act on them or not. But the efforts to repress, to use violence, hold people back, that is not a sign of strength; that's a sign of weakness," Blinken said.
A State Department spokesman earlier said that the United States "will not comment on ambiguous or vague claims by Iranian officials.
"Sadly, nothing we have seen suggests Iran's leadership is improving its treatment of women and girls or ceasing the violence it inflicts on peaceful protesters."
According to AFP, Washington has repeatedly hit out at Iran over its record on women's rights and a crackdown by authorities on the protests.
In early November, Vice President Kamala Harris said the United States would work with other nations to oust Iran from the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW).