Shirin: A courageous Iranian Leader
Shirin Ebadi, one of the courageous women leaders speak out for the change through her writing in Iran. When Shirin Ebadi was awarded the prestigious “Nobel Peace Prize,” she published a modest, passionate and vivid novel, Iran Awakening. The book is the recollection of numerous cases and events that has affected the lives of Ebadi. Although Ebadi mentions that her novel is not a “political memoir,” it depicts the turbulent political situation in Iran’s history through her personal experience. She has identified the women’s oppression from the law by sharing her faith, ethical responsibility, public career and her experiences as a daughter, wife and mother.
In Iranian culture, the veil was required only for women so she refused wearing the veil from her childhood. Her strong and determined behavior helped her to stand strongly and provide courage to fight against the patriarchal society. Due to the political upheaval, she was demoted in her job. When she observed that it was the law that categorizes women as second class citizens, she stood with courage to question the law makers. She asked “Just tell me why a woman can’t be a Judge?”
Additionally, Ebadi disclosed the suffering of civilians by sharing her cases as a judge when people came to her for legal prosecution. For instance, she reveals the bitter truth of Fraud, a seventeen year old boy who was sentenced to a prison for 25 years for the crime of selling a newspaper. She also divulged the story of photojournalist, Zahra Kazemi, who holds the dual citizenship of Iran and Canada. Zahra was accused for taking the photographs of detainees and was tortured inhumanely: Zahra’s breast, arms and inside things were scratched up and mottled blue-gray bruises. In her life, Ebadi was also accused for the scandal of distributing video against the Muslim religion and was sent to the prison where prostitute were kept.
The situation of women in Iran was so miserable. Men can divorce anytime by saying thrice “I divorce you” but women had to request their husband, a written permission for getting divorce. Therefore, Ebadi cased the file against the divorce law. Her activities seemed to be the threat for the government because the government thought that she was against the Muslim religion. As a woman and a judge, some of the female MPs requested Ebadi to write in the section of a bill that pertained to divorce; however, the bill was not passed when the male MPs knew about the bill’s author. Even though, she was demoted in her post by the law, her courageous voice and activities made her a successful woman judge in Iran.
After reading the book, I realized that there are many things which are unanswered. The writer made us suspect of what happened to her after she received the “Novel Peace Prize” in September 2003 and return to Tehran. While she was in Paris for the prize, she herself has raised the question that “what would the Iranian government think? ..... Would I be safer? ...... Who has planned to have me killed? ” However, she did not mention anything about her uncertainties and leave the reader with curiosity.