Free-thinking Americans: imagine the life of a women in Iranian society

By Jennifer Davis
April 12, 2007

In her lifetime she served as the first women judge in the Iranian justice system. She was an aspiring journalist, wife, mother of two daughters and Nobel Peace Prize winner.

In the United States many would categorize the life of Shirini Ebadi as normal or average. However in an Iranian society establishing and maintaining this life is very challenging and potentially threatening.

Shirini Ebadi held many positions in the Justice Department. After the victory of the Islamic Revolution in February 1979 Ebadi and others were dismissed from their positions and given clerical duties. Ebadi was made the clerk of the same court she once directed.

With protest after protest, the former female judges were presented the position of “experts” in the Justice Department. For Ebadi, this was intolerable as she put in her request for early retirement. Fortunately, the request was accepted.

In her spare time, she has written books and had the majority of her articles published in Iranian journals. Ebadi received her lawyer’s license and immediately began defending cases. Some were national and others social cases.

One particular case Ebadi addressed concerned photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, who was arrested while taking photographs from Evin prison compound.

A report was issued by the investigating committee that the 54-year-old photojournalist who was working for Canada’s Camera Press journal died of brain hemorrhage by a break in her skull. Kazemi was pronounced dead in a Tehran hospital on July 11 2003.

According to an Iranian news archive Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi their government believes Kazemi’s death is justified.

“The measures adapted by Iran to this effect were not in favor of this or that country. They were due to the country’s responsibility,” said Asefi.

We are living in a country where we can freely express our opinion. It is difficult to imagine that the president of a country would believe the killing of an innocent individual was their responsibility. Somehow using the word responsibility justifies the murder.

The independent media in Iran is under constant attack, voices are prosecuted and the free will of women is belittled. Kazemi’s death was caused by disregard for the perceived Iranian law.

Incidents such as these are prevalent among an individual or group of people who deem themselves above the law. The view of the public is disregarded and the punishment for the murder is non-existent.

Ebadi could not prevent the death of Kazemi. However, she is doing her best to ensure protection and changes in the justice system concerning issues of free expression and speech. You almost wonder if Ebadi was a man, would she still have been murdered?

The circumstances of Kazemi’s death are still unclear. Never the less, her brutal death illustrates the current human rights situation in Iran today.

At this time, the Bush administration is attempting to establish a democracy in Iraq.

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Jennifer Davis

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