On Wednesday, as celebrations erupted around the world in response to the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, Nasrin Sotoudeh, the Iranian human rights attorney, was quietly moved back to Qarchak women’s prison—known as one of the worst and most harrowing carceral institutions in the world—after a brief respite in the hospital where she was seeking medical care.
Artist and activist Parastou Forouhar was born and raised in Iran, but in 1991, under threat of persecution due to her family’s dissident views and her status as an artist and woman, she left Iran. But she continues to speak out for what she calls the “democratic cohort” in Iran—”so that the regime in Iran knows that these people are not alone. They are heard, they are supported.”
Not only are laws about migrant women’s bodies resulting in the mass incarceration of women in the Gulf, they are also producing a chain reaction in the form of a generation of children who are stateless.
As we celebrate the first woman of color vice president in America, let us also take that celebration transnationally to continue to build solidarity with feminist networks across oceans.
Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent human rights attorney in Iran, was arrested and sentenced to 38 years and 148 lashes. Her crime? Defending the rights of women.
Later this month, the documentary “Nasrin” will be released. Shot by filmmakers inside Iran who quite literally risked their lives to capture the footage, the film is a powerful homage to a woman who has suffered the most extreme consequences of laws that she has worked hard to change.
While the women’s wing of Evin prison continues to fill up with feminist activists such as Saba Kord Afshari, journalists like Nazanin Zaghari-Ratfliffe and lawyers like Sotoudeh, feminists refuse to back down. They fight overtly, refusing to be silenced. Many of the feminists in Iran talk about experiencing a “triple bind”: simultaneously fighting the state, their religions and themselves—all as informed by patriarchy.
In the wake of the U.S. decision to kill Iran’s most powerful military leader, Qassem Suleimani, feminist groups are now facing a larger threat than ever before. This move threatens to undo a decades long feminist struggle.