Iran Sentences Woman To 38 Years In Prison & 148 Lashes For Defending Women’s Rights

Nasrin Sotoudeh
Nasrin Sotoudeh

Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent Iranian human rights lawyer and women’s rights defender, has been sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes because of her work defending women’s rights & protesting against Iran’s forced hijab laws.

The sentencing of Nasrin Sotoudeh to 33 years in prison and 148 lashes in a new case against her is an outrageous injustice.

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The sentence, reported on her husband Reza Khandan’s Facebook page on 11 March, brings her total sentence after two grossly unfair trials to 38 years in prison. In September 2016, she had been sentenced in her absence to five years in prison in a separate case.

Nasrin has dedicated her life to peaceful human rights work, including defending women who peacefully protest against Iran’s degrading forced hijab (veiling) laws.

“It is absolutely shocking that Nasrin Sotoudeh is facing nearly four decades in jail and 148 lashes for her peaceful human rights work, including her defence of women protesting against Iran’s degrading forced hijab (veiling) laws. Nasrin Sotoudeh must be released immediately and unconditionally and this obscene sentence quashed without delay,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director.

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Women and girls in Iran are not allowed to leave their homes unless they cover their hair with a headscarf and cover up their arms and legs with loose clothing. Nasrin wanted to change this and she was jailed for it.

Nasrin Sotoudeh and his husband, Reza Khandan, and children

This is the harshest sentence recorded against a human rights defender in Iran in recent years, suggesting that the authorities are stepping up their repression. These sentences keep Nasrin separated from her husband and two children and stop her from being able to carry out her important work as a human rights lawyer.

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“Nasrin Sotoudeh has dedicated her life to defending women’s rights and speaking out against the death penalty – it is utterly outrageous that Iran’s authorities are punishing her for her human rights work. Her conviction and sentence consolidate Iran’s reputation as a cruel oppressor of women’s rights.”

Nasrin Sotoudeh was arrested at her home on 13 June 2018. This week, she was informed by the office for the implementation of sentences in Tehran’s Evin prison where she is jailed that she had been convicted on seven charges and sentenced to 33 years in prison and 148 lashes. The charges, which are in response to her peaceful human rights work, include “inciting corruption and prostitution”, “openly committing a sinful act by… appearing in public without a hijab” and “disrupting public order”.

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During her sentencing, Article 134 of Iran’s Penal Code was applied, which allows judges to use their discretion to impose a higher sentence than the maximum statutory requirement when a defendant faces more than three charges. In Nasrin Sotoudeh’s case, the judge, Mohammad Moghiseh, applied the maximum statutory sentence for each of her seven charges and then added another four years to her total prison term, raising it from the statutory maximum of 29 to 33 years.

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  1. There must be a woman or some women behind this cruelty. It is difficult to conceive a male judge convicting a female lawyer for 148 lashes. Another, possibly jealous, woman must have been behind this, propping up the judge, Mohammad Moghiseh. Other human right organisations across the globe should take this case on. Apart from the dignity of the legal profession being at risk, the need to liberate women from this cage in the name of tradition should be taken on headlong by human rights activists all over the world.


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