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.”
Join Ms. and PEN America for a special online conversation Monday, December 21 at 3 p.m. ET / 12 p.m. PT. with Margaret Atwood; Nicholas Kristof; Nasrin’s husband, Reza Khandan; PEN America’s Karin Deutsch Karlekar; human rights advocate Kerry Kennedy; Iranian artist and activist Parastou Forouhar; and Nasrin filmmakers Jeff Kaufman and Marcia Ross.
In a huge victory, Iranian women’s rights attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh—jailed two years ago on bogus spying and propaganda charges—has been temporarily released from Qarchak prison on medical leave.
Sotoudeh’s release is due in large part to international pressure from the tireless efforts of activists and human rights groups.
Mahsa Khanbabai, an Iranian American and an immigration lawyer, shares her thoughts on advocating for a more fair and just America.
She writes, “Immigration attorneys and advocates will continue to demand change not only in a court of law, but in the court of public opinion. It’s vital to empower those without voices, as well as to advocate for change with our neighbors, our broader community and with our elected officials. It’s bigger than a single political movement—it’s about education and dialogue. “
“Now, in the corner of this all, here I am as an olive-skinned, middle-aged activist in diaspora trying to inspire the transnational feminism to have more solidarity and to prevent together women from being turned and wrapped in the storming winds of violence, autocracy and militarism—in the Eastern and the Western states.”
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.
Watch this short documentary about the women’s movement in Iran, directed by Jeff Kaufman.