The decision to leave your country, especially when you leave for political or ideological reasons, can be gut-wrenching. My parents made that decision for me when they left Iran in my early adolescence. Unlike some Iranians forced to flee, my parents were not members of a persecuted religious minority. Nor were they high-profile political activists at immediate risk of arrest. But as people who had demonstrated against the Shah’s dictatorship, and had hoped that the 1979 revolution would bring democracy and social justice to Iran, witnessing their country plunge into authoritarianism and turn into a theocracy was more than they could bear. It was like the country they knew and hoped for no longer existed. Add to that the fact that, in September 1980, Saddam Hussein ordered the invasion of Iran, igniting a cruel war that would last eight years, and my parents felt that the best option for them, my two sisters and me was to build a future elsewhere. It was a decision that tormented them as they made it, and continued to occupy their thoughts for years after emigration.
Earlier this summer, Ghoncheh Ghavami stood outside Tehran's majestic Azadi (freedom) stadium, wearing a white scarf and holding up a placard.
With Hassan Rouhani promising a more moderate stance in Iran, she wanted to enter the stadium alongside male fans, hoping that the Islamic republic's ban on women attending big sporting events would finally be over.
In a matter of one week in the U.S. and Iran, authorities have made decisions that restrain women's right to control their bodies. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court voted in favor of permitting family companies to deny employees insurance coverage for contraception in the name of religious freedom. Whereas, Iranian MPs ratified a bill last week which in case of becoming a law criminalizes any act that promotes or employs birth control tools and methods.
Iranian women aren't allowed to enter national stadiums or gather with men to watch sport in public. But many have defied the authorities during the World Cup, cheering on their team in local restaurants. Claire Cohen reports.
Justice for Iran (JFI) – May 14, 2014 | After more than a quarter of a century of struggle to raise awareness about the plight of their loved ones, Mothers of Khavaran receive the 2014 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights.