Renewed strength and resilience – Iranian lawyer and journalist fights for equal rights for women

The Iranian human rights activist Shadi Sadr knows all about jail conditions in her country. The 38-year-old lawyer has herself been detained many times in Evin, a jail for political prisoners. Blindfolded, Sadr was repeatedly forced to answer questions from her male jailers about her involvement in the country's women's movement, and about her travel, campaigns and contacts, particularly those abroad. She was released on bail, but her organization, RAAHI, which campaigns for women's rights, was outlawed.

As a lawyer, Sadr – together with a group of volunteer lawyers – has defended innumerable Iranian women, especially those struggling for gender equality in Iran. Until recently, this concept was not even mentioned in the Iranian constitution. Sadr has also provided legal representation for female journalists charged with openly criticizing the regime by demanding an end to all discrimination against women. Most were condemned to death by stoning. Sadr managed to get the sentences commuted.

As editor-in-chief of the “Woman in Iran” website, Sadr has created the first platform dedicated to the work of women’s rights activists in Iran. Again and again, she draws attention to courageous women in her country. She also leads an anti-stoning campaign.

Her goal is simple: freedom and democracy for the women in her country. She believes in their inherent strength and resilience. The demonstrations in Tehran immediately after the 2009 presidential election showed women as leaders, directing whole crowds of demonstrators. “They stood up to the security forces and marched right at the front along with the men,” says Sadr. But so far they have remained absent from the political scene.

Nevertheless, Sadr is optimistic, even if living and working conditions for Iranian women under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s fundamentalist regime are becoming worse and worse. “The movement has diversified,” says Sadr. “Women of all social classes are now participating in debates and making their demands heard.” In this way, the system of suppression is gradually being combated in poorer areas and is no longer just a matter for the intellectual elite. The women’s activists see this as at least a small victory, even if there is still a long way to go.

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1 comment

  1. promod

    I vote for her noble cause.

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