She was sentenced to 38 years in prison for defending women who refused to wear headscarves along with 148 lashes last month on charges of encouraging prostitution and offering legal advice to women protesting the mandatory hijab.
Image Courtesy: AP Photo/Arash Ashourinia
Iran: Support is growing for an Iranian human rights lawyer after she was sentenced to 38 years in prison for defending women who refused to wear headscarves. Nasrin Sotoudeh received the sentence, along with 148 lashes, last month on charges of encouraging prostitution and offering legal advice to women protesting the mandatory hijab.
“Nasrin was invited to advise the G7 on legislation to protect women, but was locked up when the meeting took place. If we ramp up the pressure now, we can get those rich countries to call for the release of Nasrin, and others like her, using their diplomatic and economic leverage to end the global crackdown on women. This could be big. Women's rights abusing governments like Iran and Saudi Arabia are desperate for trade with G7 countries like France and Germany, so their pressure will go a long way,” an Avaaz petition stated.
The award-winning human right lawyer is serving her sentence in Iran’s notorious Evin prison, often referred to as the regime’s “torture factory.” Advocates say she has protested her imprisonment by refusing to wear a headscarf.
On Monday, author Margaret Atwood called for Sotoudeh’s immediate release. Atwood is scheduled to present her with the PEN Canada’s One Humanity award this week, which recognizes writers who inspire others across national borders.
Sotoudeh is the only person to win the PEN Canada award twice. She has also won the European Parliament’s 2012 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought and the 2018 Ludovic Trarieux Human Rights Prize.
Atwood said Sotoudeh has “tirelessly defended women and children from exactly the sort of arbitrary judicial rulings that have now been used to silence her."
"Let us call on the Iranian authorities to respect fundamental justice and grant Nasrin Sotoudeh an immediate and unconditional release,” Atwood said in a news release.
Over the past decade, the human rights lawyer has been facing intimidation and false charges by the government. In the year 2018 and 2019, she has been charged with multiple cases related to national security offences. In 2011, the Iranian court banned her from practising law, as well as from travelling outside the country, for 20 years, along with 11 years imprisonment, which was later reduced to six years.
Following the Iranian revolution of 1979, the country has adherence to a “regressive” and compulsory Islamic dress code, especially for women. Women are not allowed to appear in public without wearing a headscarf or hijab. Further, the dress code dictates that women’s hair and body must be covered in public. Violation of the rule imposed by the country is a punishable offence. According to the Islamic Penal Code of Iran (1991), “women who appear in public without a proper hijab should be imprisoned from ten days to two months or pay a fine of 50,000 to 500,000 Iranian Rial (USD 1 to 12)”. The law is reportedly applicable to all Iranian women regardless of their religion.
You can sign the Avaaz petition demanding her release here.