EbadiIran Awakening by Shirin Ebadi is a memoir in which she outlines her own life and the life of women in Iran. Throughout the novel, her focus remains on the role of women in Iran. She paints a portrait of her own self, whose drive and courage never allowed her to be silenced. She speaks of her experiences as a woman in Iran before, during, and after the Revolution of 1979. Her story begins as a child, before the revolution. She grew up in a very liberal home.
Both parents were very intellectual.
Her mother was forced to marry, therefore could not attend college and her father was a deputy minister working under the popular government of Prime Mister Mohammad Mossadegh. She grew up in a special household where her parents did not treat her or her brother different. They met their attention, affection, and discipline equally. She was raised thinking this was a perfectly normal environment when in reality, in most Iranian households it was the male children that enjoyed an exalted status, female relatives spoiled them, and their rebellion was overlooked or praised.
As children grew older the boys’ privileges expanded while the girls’ lessened so they remained “honorable and well-bred”. Before the Revolution of 1979, Ebadi described women as more liberal in Iran. She wore western clothing, was educated, and interacted with both males and females. She was also free to protest without getting executed. Ebadi described a protest at the Tehran University where a crowd of students including her, gathered to protest high tuition fees. She described how the protestors were dressed, the women in miniskirts and the men in short sleeves.
This type of behavior or fashion sense would have been unacceptable during or even after the revolution. Before the revolution, women had more rights. It was a very secular system, not tied to religion. The judicial government was the legal system which people thought was still fair and just. The 1979 Revolution had a big impact on Iranian culture. In the spring of 1979, Ebadi and her husband planned a trip to New York to visit a fertility specialist after Ebadi’s second miscarriage. Their trip was less only than a month and by the time they returned to Iran, Tehran was a completely different city.
The streets had been renamed after Shia imams and martyred clerics. Ebadi said she remembered walking in the court and passing from hall to hall noticing how the men were no longer wearing suits and ties. Instead they were wearing plain slacks and collarless shirts, some wrinkled and even stained. Wearing dirty clothing became a mark of political integrity. The revolution had a great impact on Ebadi’s life. During this time she was forced to wear a veil, relieved of her position, and was demoted to a role that was below her qualifications as a lawyer. She had heard rumors that Islam was forbidding women from being judges.
In her eyes, she was sure they would not go after her and if they did, then she was sure that everything would be over for women in the justice system. She was the most distinguished female judge in the Tehran court and in her mind, she figured that her published articled would secure her expose. This was not case. Once the clerics succeeded in overthrowing the shah and strengthening their power, Ebadi was stripped from her judgeship. She was demoted because she was a woman, first to a clerk and then to a secretary in the very courtroom over which she had presided as a judge.
The 1979 revolution impacted all women, not only Ebadi. In 1980, the country’s new Islamic penal code was literally adopted overnight and appeared in the morning newspaper one day. The penal code said a woman’s life was to be worth half of a man’s in the eyes of the law. Criminal penalties and relations between the sexes were to be set back 1,400 years. A woman’s testimony in court as a witness to a crime counted only half as much as a man’s, a women also had to ask her husband’s permission for divorce. Ebadi did not allow this to spoil her marriage.
She wrote, “The day Javad and I married each other, we joined our lives together as two equal individuals, but under these laws, he stayed a person and I became chattel. They permitted him to divorce me at whim, take custody of our future children, acquire three wives and stick them in the house with me”. Although she knew that her husband did not have any bad intentions, she feared for what might come in her future and the fact that her husband had more power than her made her uneasy. Both her and her husband came up with a solution; she took him to a notary’s office where he signed away the new rights the Islamic Republic had given him.
After the 1979 revolution, conservative clerics forced her and all other Iranian women judges to step down, and she turned to legal practice. She became an outspoken critic of the nation’s conservative theocracy. The decade after the revolution was a crucible of war and repression. For Ebadi, it was marked above all by the political imprisonment and murder of a family member. After the war, Ebadi wrote that the Islamic Republic needed to rebuild itself after the harsh war and needed women back. In 1992, the judiciary permitted women to practice law again. Ebadi was granted a license and set up an office where she began to see clients.
Ebadi chose to work not only for a salary, but to make a contribution to the country where she had chosen to remain. She wrote that by accepting commercial cases, she was put in the position of either abandoning her principles or failing her clients. It was at this point that she decided to give up her career as a lawyer to take on pro bono cases where she would be able to show the injustice of the Islamic Republic’s laws. She decided to remain in Iran to become a legal activist for women and children because she felt betrayed by the people that left Iran.
In her mind, she felt she could help the women and children if she stayed so she decided to become an advocate and work on behalf of their rights. She pored over religious texts to argue against particular interpretations of Koranic injunctions by insisting that within Islam, other more just or less discriminatory interpretations were possible. She did this not because she had warmed to the Islamic penal code or to the idea of religious interpretation as a foundation for the law, but because her cases were pressing.
In 1999, she represented the family of Ezzat Ebrahiminejad, a student who was murdered in a military attack on a university dormitory following a demonstration protesting restrictions on the press. She read in a newspaper that Ezzat’s father was so desperate to find a lawyer to pursue his son’s killers so she offered her services for free. A man by the name of Amir Farshad Ebrahimi went to Ebadi’s office claiming he had first had information about the killers who attacked the dormitory. Ebadi filmed his testimony but this had all ben a trap and as a result she had committed a olitical crime and was sent to prison for 25 days in 2000. Iran Awakening is a memoir therefore reflects only Ebadi’s opinion and states her voice. She comes from a wealthy family and is educated and her opinion will vary from a person who was underprivileged. She is also a woman and her experience was different than a man’s experience in the revolution. She always targeted to change family laws. She focused especially on the struggle for the rights of women and children. She gave hope to many women in Iran. In 2003, Ebadi was presented with the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts in human rights.
Cite this Iran Awakening
Iran Awakening. (2016, Oct 07). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/iran-awakening/