An Iranian woman succumbed to injuries after she set herself ablaze, human rights organization Amnesty International said. She was reportedly denied entry in a football stadium in Tehran which compelled her to take this step. The 29-year-old woman Sahar Khodayari faced charges of “appearing in public without a hijab” since she attempted to enter the stadium “dressed as a man” in March.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • 29-year-old Iranian woman Sahar Khodayari set herself ablaze in a football stadium in Tehran.
  • She was reportedly denied entry in the stadium which compelled her to take this step.
  • She faced charges of “appearing in public without a hijab” since she attempted to enter the stadium “dressed as a man” in March.

She died at a Tehran hospital after suffering burns across 90% of her body. She had been on a respirator since dousing herself with gasoline in front of Tehran’s Ershad Courthouse on Sept. 2, according to the Iranian news website Rokna.

Khodayari appeared in a Tehran court last week but the case was adjourned. She then poured gasoline on herself and lit herself on fire. She passed away on Monday September 9.

Women are banned from entering sports stadiums

Iran banned women from entering soccer stadiums after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, when religious laws were enforced to segregate men and women in public spaces like schools, buses and sports events. For more than a decade, Iranian rights activists, feminists, and die-hard soccer fans have waged a battle to regain the right for women to attend games.

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Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on football’s world governing body FIFA to end the ban. According to BBC, FIFA set a deadline of 31 August for Iran to allow women into stadiums, but the country has not yet guaranteed such move.

“Sahar’s tragic arrest, jailing, and suicide attempt underscore the need for Iran to end its ban on women attending sports matches, and the urgency for regulating bodies like FIFA to enforce its own human rights rules,” HRW said in a statement before the news of her death.

“The stadium ban is not written into law or regulation but is ruthlessly enforced by the country’s authorities,” Mindy Worden, the director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch.

Her sister told a news agency that Sahar was suffering from bipolar disorder and her time spent in jail made her condition worse.

She has since been dubbed the “Blue Girl” on social media, after the colours of her favourite Iranian soccer team, Esteghlal.

In a statement, FIFA said, “We are aware of that tragedy and deeply regret it. FIFA convey our condolences to the family and friends of Sahar and reiterate our calls on the Iranian authorities to ensure the freedom and safety of any women engaged in this legitimate fight to end the stadium ban for women in Iran.”

“The stadium ban is not written into law or regulation but is ruthlessly enforced by the country’s authorities,” wrote Mindy Worden, the director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch.

She also added that Khodayari’s suicide underscores “the need for Iran to end its ban on women attending sports matches and the urgency for regulating bodies like FIFA to enforce its own human rights rules.”

Image credit: The Washington Post

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