Iran’s women human rights defenders (WHRDs) have long been at the forefront of the country’s struggle against discrimination and inequality. For four decades, legal and systematic discrimination against women in that country has rendered women one of the most significant forces of resistance and change. Consequently, they have consistently been suppressed in political and social arenas, more than other groups. Women’s efforts have publicly exposed ongoing discrimination, oppression, and injustice, contributing to the promotion and strengthening of feminist and human rights discourses and justice-oriented values in Iranian society. This struggle, in both private and public spheres, has faced various risks and costs, including detention, imprisonment, house arrest, internal exile, travel bans, government-sponsored sexual and gender-based violence, social pressures, and more for these activists.
In this report, Femena highlights the cases of WHRDs currently imprisoned in Evin Prison. It includes women and girls working to promote women’s rights and gender equality and justice as well as those engaged in promoting human rights issues as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The UN’s definition also encompasses all members of civil society who may not explicitly identify themselves as human rights defenders, as well as individuals working in non-traditional human rights fields such as journalists, healthcare activists, environmental defenders, peace activists, among others.
These women have been sentenced to prison as a result of their fight against oppression and discrimination. Even though, the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted in 1988, by unanimous approval of UN member countries recognizes the crucial role of human rights defenders and serves as a warning about the threats and risks they face. The Declaration also states that governments not only should not impede the work of rights defenders, but should facilitate it.
This report is a continuation of Femena’s series aimed at supporting imprisoned WHRDs in Iran. In previous reports, we focused on detained women activists during the “Woman, Life, Freedom” uprising. In this report, we highlight the cases of WHRDs who are serving their prison terms in Evin Prison—those who, in their quest to build a better, more humane, and equitable society, have found themselves behind bars.