Inspiring Thursday: Nasrin Sotoudeh
Nasrin Sotoudeh is a brave feminist lawyer in Iran, fighting for a long time for Iranian women’s rights, who has been featured in international media as she spends many years of her life behind bars. When she was a bachelor student of law, she joined the main patriotic party, in opposition to the current politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the early 1990s. She then worked at Tejarat Bank Legal Center while at the same time, receiving her master’s degree from Shahid Beheshti University after she successfully passed the bar exam. Nasrin Sotoudeh also wrote for Women’s Magazine, and because of her interest in women’s rights issues, she was a member of the One Million Signatures Campaign, the first Iranian women campaign to achieve equal rights with men. Her interest in gender equality made her one of the most important opponents of the gender policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and this was the beginning of her long prison terms. Imprisonments during which she could not see her children grow up nor say goodbye to her mother for the last time. Contrary to the familiar practice of the Iranian judiciary in the covert killing of political prisoners, Nasrin Sotoudeh’s international recognition and special character however placed her in a position where any action posed a national threat. During her tenure as a lawyer, she wrote articles and lectures to inform Iranian women about the oppression imposed on them, both overt and covert gender policies and unequal laws. She successfully completed many cases in defence of women’s rights in Iran and saved many women from the death penalty. She also advised members of the Association for the Protection of Children’s Rights and was a member of the association’s board. In the meantime, she oversaw the cases of several children under the age of 18 who had committed crimes and were sentenced to death.
She was one of 15 political and civil activists who, emphasizing the “irreversibility” of the Islamic Republic of Iran, called for a UN-sponsored referendum on a “peaceful transition” from the current government to “a secular parliamentary democracy.”
In 2008, the Italian International Committee of Human Rights, a non-governmental human rights organization, presented its first award to Nasrin Sotoudeh. Two years later, the American Pen Association (Penn) awarded the 2011 Barbara Goldsmith Pen Freedom Award to Nasrin Sotoudeh, the Iranian lawyer, human rights activist and journalist. She also received the Sakharov Prize in 2013. Three years later, she was announced as one of the winners of the prestigious “Right Life” award, known as the Nobel Alternative. In 2019. the Council of European Legal Associations and Advocacy awarded its Human Rights Award to four Iranian lawyers, including Nasrin Sotoudeh. All four lawyers are currently being held in Iranian prisons for defending political prisoners.
On Thursday, October 31, 2016, Nasrin Sotoudeh was announced as one of the winners of the prestigious “Right Life” award, known as the Nobel Alternative. Their statement for this award is “Their struggle for equality, democracy, justice and freedom”.
Written by WAVE intern Homa Bazafkan