British Woman Still In Jail For Trying To Attend Men's Volleyball Game In Iran

| by Jared Keever

A British woman remains in custody in an Iranian prison after being arrested over two months ago for trying to view a men’s volleyball game in Tehran, her family said recently.

Ghoncheh Ghavami was arrested along with more than a dozen other women as they tried to enter a stadium to watch Iran’s national volleyball team play Italy on June 20.

The 25-year-old British-Iranian woman was released and arrested a second time after returning to collect her belongings. She has now been transferred to Tehran’s Evin jail, a site notorious for holding political prisoners and journalists, reports The Independent.

“[The family] can barely hold themselves together,” her brother, Iman Ghavami, recently told reporters, according to the Daily Mail. “They are torn apart — not just my parents but my grandparents, my uncles, everybody.”

Ghavami was taking part in a protest for women's rights the day she was first arrested. 

Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, females have been forbidden to attend sporting events where men are competing and not considered to be fully dressed. 

Shiva Nazarahari, a well-known women’s rights activist in Iran, who herself has spent time behind bars, described the nature of the group’s demonstration on a Facebook page created to draw attention to Ghavami’s plight. 

“We just wanted to occupy a few seats in a stadium to cheer our national volleyball team in a stadium ironically called Azadi (meaning freedom in Persian),” Nazarahari wrote. “But they told us that there is no law in the country to allow women inside stadiums. In this country a woman who wants to watch a volleyball match has to be prepared to spend some time in prison later.”

Iran's head of police, Esmail Ahmadi Moghadam, said the law is on his side in the case of Ghavami.

“In the current conditions, the mixing of men and women in stadiums is not in the public interest,” he said. “The stance taken by religious scholars and the supreme leader remains unchanged, and as the enforcer of law, we cannot allow women to enter stadiums.”

Ghavami reportedly told her family she recently spent 41 days in solitary confinement. 

She maintains dual citizenship in Britain and Iran. 

British authorities said they are looking into the matter but have limited diplomatic options in Iran. 

According to The Telegraph, a spokesperson from Britain’s Foreign Office said only, “We are aware of reports of a dual British-Iranian national imprisoned in Iran, and are looking into them.”

Sources: The Independent, Daily Mail, Facebook, The Telegraph

Photo Source: Facebook