A suggestion by Iran's Attorney General that the so-called morality police has been disbanded is a "distraction technique", according to Iranian activists in Ireland.

Iran is witnessing some of the most significant protests since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in the wake of the 16 September death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old who had been detained by the morality police, which enforces strict codes on women's dress.

Hundreds of protesters have been killed and around 20,000 people have been arrested.

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 or Iran's law enforcement agencies.

While the forces' possible disbandment could be seen as a concession, Dr Mastoureh Fathi told RTÉ News that she believes the comments are being used to distract Iranians and the international community from planned protests.

"The morality police has been suspended as a ploy to distract people in the country and the international community because we are going to start three days of strike as of today," the UCC lecturer in Sociology said.

"They wanted to announce these just one day before the strikes... to undermine the scope of the revolutionary uprisings," she added.

One Iranian human rights advocate in Ireland said that while the demonstrations were initially triggered by the morality police, they have grown into something much bigger.

"There is no proof that it has been disabled. It's just one claim from one person," Aida Younesi, Iranian human rights advocate in Ireland, told RTÉ.

"The laws for compulsory hijab are still there and people just want democracy" she said.

US: Nothing suggests Iran improving treatment of women

The United States has said that "nothing suggests" Iran is improving the treatment of women.

A state department spokesman also indicated its scepticism, saying, "We have seen the reports but 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."

Washington has hit out at Iran over its women's rights record 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).

Washington has hit out at Iran over its women's rights record

Iran, ruled by Shiite Muslim clerics, was elected to a term that ends in 2026. The United States is serving through next year.

US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, reiterated the call on Sunday, tweeting that the Iranian government should not be on an international commission "dedicated to promoting gender equality and women's empowerment".

"Removing Iran from the Commission on the Status of Women is the right thing to do," she said.

A public petition to have Iran removed from the body had received 165,800 signatures as of today.

The 54-member UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is expected to vote next week on whether to expel the Islamic republic from the commission.

Iran has accused Washington of pressuring countries ahead of the vote.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanan today said the United States was trying to force out Iran "with help of certain European countries," calling such a move "illegal" and "politically motivated".

"This goes against the free voting rights of the countries in international organisations," he said.

Additional reporting: AFP