Shirin Ebadi (Lawyer/Human Rights Activist)
Shirin Ebadi is an Iranian lawyer, Nobel Peace Prize laureate (2003), author of the best-selling book Iran Awakening, human rights activist, women and children’s advocate, mother, Muslim, and amazing woman.
She is one of Iran's best-known, and to some most-controversial, Muslim champions of democracy and human rights.
She has been imprisoned for her views and has been is repeatedly threatened by her detractors. Yet she continues to stand firm for her beliefs and to fight for human rights, particularly those of women and children, in her beloved Iran.
In her own words (abbreviated from her bio on the Nobel Prize website):
I was born in the city of Hamedan [northwestern Iran] in 1947. My family were academics and practising Muslims.
I came to Tehran with my family when I was a one year old and have since been a resident in the capital. I spent my childhood in a family filled with kindness and affection. I have two sisters and a brother all of whom are highly educated. My mother dedicated all her time and devotion to our upbringing.
I received my law degree in three-and-a-half years, and immediately sat the entrance exams for the Department of Justice. I began to serve officially as a judge in March 1969. While serving as a judge, I continued my education and obtained a doctorate with honours in private law from Tehran University in 1971.
I am the first woman in the history of Iranian justice to have served as a judge. Following the victory of the Islamic Revolution in February 1979, since the belief was that Islam forbids women to serve as judges, I and other female judges were dismissed from our posts and given clerical duties. They made me a clerk in the very court I once presided over.
We all protested. As a result, they promoted all former female judges, including myself, to the position of "experts" in the Justice Department. I could not tolerate the situation any longer, and so put in a request for early retirement. My request was accepted.
Since the Bar Association had remained closed for some time since the revolution and was being managed by the Judiciary, my application for practising law was turned down. I was, in effect, housebound for many years. I used my time of unemployment to write several books and had many articles published in Iranian journals.
Finally, in 1992 I succeeded in obtaining a lawyer's licence and set up my own practice. After receiving my lawyer's licence I accepted to defend many cases. Some were national cases. Among them, I represented the families of the serial murders victims (the family of Dariush and Parvaneh Foruhar) and Ezzat Ebrahiminejad, who were killed during the attack on the university dormitory. I also participated in some press-related cases. I took on a large number of social cases, too, including child abuse. I also represented the mother of Mrs Zahra Kazemi, a photojournalist killed in Iran.
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