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Iran: More Feminist Activists Sentenced to Jail, Police Crackdown on Women in Public

Of the 11 women's rights activists who have been summoned by Iran's Revolutionary Court in the past week, six have now been sentenced to serve jail time. All six women faced charges for participating in a public demonstration against Iran's discriminatory laws against women last June. On April 11, Azadeh Forghani was handed a suspended sentence of two years for "acting against national security by participating in an illegal gathering," Human Rights Watch reports. One week later, Fariba Davoudi Mohajer, a journalist, and Sussan Tahmasebi, a board member for the Iranian Civil Society Organizations Training and Research Center, received jail sentences of four years and two years, respectively. Most recently, Nusheen Ahmadi Khorasani, Shahla Entersari, and Parvin Ardalan were sentenced on Tuesday to three years in prison, with 30 months suspended, for "collusion and assembly to endanger the national security," Human Rights Watch reports.

Human Rights Watch has called on the head of Iran's Judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi Shahrudi, to immediately overturn these convictions and to end the persecution of those who are working for human and civil rights. "The Iranian Judiciary is using national security laws to imprison women's rights activists for peacefully protesting against legally sanctioned discrimination," Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said. "Instead of persecuting women's rights activists, Iran's government should scrap laws that discriminate against women."

All six women are active in the "Change for Equality" campaign, which aims to end discrimination against Iranian women. Each woman signed the "One Million Signatures" petition, calling for an end to polygamy, equal inheritance rights for women and men, and equal weight for testimony given by women and men.

Also in Iran, police have launched a crackdown against women who are not dressed conservatively enough. Arrests were made of women who wore tightly fitting clothes and who did not cover all of their hair with a veil. A police spokesperson told the Associated Press that 278 women have been arrested; all but 47 have been released after pledging to not appear "inadequately dressed in public" again. The AP also reports that another 3,548 women received "warnings and Islamic guidance." According to the BBC, police are stopping pedestrians and drivers of all ages and nationalities. The BBC also reports that police are instructing shop owners not to sell tight clothing and cab drivers not to carry women who are not appropriately dressed.

Media Resources: Nobel Women's Initiative 4/25/07; Human Rights Watch 4/26/07; AP 4/26/07, 4/24/07; BBC 4/27/07; Voice of America 4/26/07; Los Angeles Times 4/25/07; Feminist Daily News Wire 4/23/07

© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

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