In Tehran, Iran, a British-Iranian woman has been sentenced to one year in prison for trying to watch a men’s volleyball game in a Tehran stadium.
Her name is Ghoncheh Ghavami and she is a law graduate from the University of London. The incident took place in June as she tried to enter into the stadium to watch the Iranian national men’s volleyball team as they were about to compete against Italy in a friendly volleyball match. According to the New York post, due to the laws in Iran, she was detained and arrested on charges of “spreading propaganda against the ruling system.”
Britain was quick to make complaints about Ghoncheh Ghavami’s trial. The case marked the limits to free expression in Iran and efforts by authorities to enforce strict interpretations of Islamic norms despite current Iranian President Hassan Rouhani looking for a policy of more openness.
The family of the convicted Ghoncheh Ghavami was hoping that she would be granted an early release due to the fact that she’s already been in custody since her detainment back in June of this year, but they were sad to see that it would not be so. “We’re disappointed and kind of shocked. We really hoped she’d be released” said Iman Ghavami the brother of Ghoncheh.
Women are banned from attending male-only matches in Iran. Ghoncheh attempted to enter the stadium with other women to protest the ban, according to Amnesty International. There were also female photographers in the complex who were also ordered to leave, but none of them were arrested.
Ghoncheh was held with the other protesters for a few hours before being released. Ghoncheh was detained again a few days later and had her trial last month while the other protesters have been unheard of up to this point. Her brother said she did not have access to her lawyer until it came time for her court hearing.
“It’s an outrage that a young woman is being locked up simply for peacefully having her say about how women are discriminated against in Iran,” said Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen to the New York Post.
Iman Ghavami also said he thinks Iranian authorities went for his sister and not the other female protesters because she holds both British and Iranian citizenship. Iranian authorities do not recognize dual citizens for their nationalities, and treats them as Iranians under law.