Leila Alikarami writes on www.opendemocracy.net
If President Rouhani honours his promises and ‘de-securitises’ the general atmosphere, the work of women human rights defenders could lead to significant and tangible change towards ensuring human rights for Iranian citizens.
More than fifty Iranian women human rights defenders are currently behind the bars in Iran. They are spending their lives in prison because they refused to be silenced: whether in voicing their political and religious beliefs, raising their ethnic demands, or simply challenging gender-related restrictions that are imposed on them as women.
In order to silence women human rights defenders and prevent them from working together, the state has employed different methods. Threats, interrogations, arrests and jail terms have been the fate of tens of women who have organized gatherings, written articles in criticism of discriminatory laws, given interviews or taken part in seminars, despite none of these activities being illegal. A number of these individuals have been acquitted, and others have been handed suspended jail sentences; some, however, have received heavy sentences.