The Islamic Republic of Iran once again proved its misogyny by punishing a 20-year-old woman with 24 years in jail for merely baring her head in public and not wearing a Hijab. Saba Kord-Afshari is the brave girl who defied the Hijab Law in the country where women are banned from baring their heads in public space in a bid to protect themselves and follow modesty.

Kord-Afshari observed a special day called ‘White Wednesday’ that rebellious women observe to stand up to religious fanatics against their dogmatic rules in the country. She appeared in front of the Iranian Court on August 19 and was charged with “spreading corruption and prostitution by taking off her hijab and walking without a veil,” “spreading propaganda against the state,” and “assembly and collusion,” reports Iran Human Rights Monitor.

The Intelligence Ministry of Iran has been consistently forcing Kord-Afshari to release apology video confessing to her crime but she resisted to do it. They also arrested her mother Raheleh Ahmadi, to further pressurise her to make false confessions.

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The branch 26 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court issued the order and informed Kord-Afshari’s lawyer on August 27. While the maximum sentence for her should have been 15 years for “promoting corruption and prostitution by removing her veil and walking in the streets without the veil”, it has been increased to 24 years because the court found “numerous charges and previous records”.

The Intelligence Ministry of Iran has been consistently forcing Kord-Afshari to release apology video confessing to her crime but she resisted to do it. They also arrested her mother Raheleh Ahmadi, to further pressurise her to make false confessions.

Iranian Police first arrested her on August 2, 2018, in front of Daneshjoo (Student) park in Tehran where she was attending a protest. They lodged her in Qarchak prison initially then transferred her to Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.

On being arrested, Kord-Afshari and other detainees shared a message telling about the treatment they are met with for protesting. They sent the message through a cell phone while on-board the State Security Force van on their way to the jail.

She spent one whole year in Quarchak jail for “disruption of public order” after which they transferred her to Evin Prison. She was released in February 2019 just two months before her specified sentence. “When I saw the situation of prisons closely, especially in Qarchak, I came to the conclusion that we in Iran only have the name of human rights. In fact, in Iran, there are no rights for humans, let alone respecting human rights in the prisons,” she said after coming out of jail adding that it is a government spectacle that she was released.

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However, her release did not last more than three months as she was arrested again in June. The security forces this time confiscated her cell phone, laptop and some other personal belongings and took her to the detention centre on Vozara Avenue. After getting back and forth between the Qarchak prison and Evin, she has finally been shifted to the women’s cell of Evin prison.

“When I saw the situation of prisons closely, especially in Qarchak, I came to the conclusion that we in Iran only have the name of human rights. In fact, in Iran, there are no rights for humans, let alone respecting human rights in the prisons,”

The injustice towards Kord-Afshari would have gone completely unreported if it wasn’t for the Irvin Cotler, the former attorney general of Canada and human rights crusader tweeted, “Condemn the brutal & unjust sentence of #SabaKordafshari, who at only 20 years old has just been sentenced to 24 years of imprisonment. Her “crime”? Speaking out for women’s rights in #Iran. We must all, wherever we are, stand in solidarity with Saba & #WhiteWednesdays prisoners.”

He and Iranian feminist Masih Alinejad were the first to acknowledge and stand up against the inhumane treatment of Kord-Afshari in Iran.

Picture credit: Iran HRM

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