Free Iranian Woman Jailed for Wanting to Watch Sports


Target: Ayatollah Seyyed ‘Ali Khamenei, Leader of the Islamic Republic

Goal: Free activist jailed for protesting to allow women to watch sporting events

It is a simple enough demand: British-Iranian Ghoncheh Ghavami wants women in Iran to be allowed to attend live volleyball matches. The government disagrees, however, and Ghavami has been arrested and detained without charge for over two months simply for taking part in a protest advocating for women’s right to watch sports. Sign the petition and demand that the government immediately and unconditionally release Ghavami.

Women in Iran have long been banned from attending football matches, but volleyball is a recent addition to the list of banned events. Government officials cite the “lewd behavior” of male fans as the reason for the prohibition on female spectators. Ghavami’s strange saga began when she took part in a demonstration protesting the ban on women watching volleyball matches. She was arrested at the protest and her cell phone was confiscated by police. When she reported to the station to retrieve it a few days later, she was taken to Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison, and plainclothes officers also went to her home and confiscated her computer and books.

Ghavami has been kept in solitary confinement for most of her detention. She has been threatened by prison officials and denied access to both a lawyer and her family. She has not yet been charged with a crime, and she is a prisoner of conscience, arrested solely for peacefully expressing her political beliefs. Sign the petition and demand that Ghavami be released from prison immediately.


Your Excellency,

I am writing to urge the immediate release of Ghoncheh Ghavami, a 25-year-old activist arrested for participating in a demonstration that advocated for women’s right to attend sporting events. She has done nothing wrong and has yet to be charged with a crime despite being held in custody for over two months. Her status as a prisoner of conscience means she must be released immediately and unconditionally.

As you know, women are banned from both football and volleyball matches as a measure to “protect” them from the “lewd behavior” of male spectators. However, this practice is discriminatory, infringes upon the rights of law-abiding women, and takes the onus of responsibility off of misbehaving men and punishes the women they have allegedly disrespected. Women are adults capable of making their own decisions and as such have every right to attend any public event they so choose. If rowdy men are an issue, take measures to prevent misbehavior and punish violators. Do not punish female sports fans for something utterly outside of their control.

Ghavami’s time in custody has been marred by threats from prison officials, denial of legal representation, a lack of access to her family, and solitary confinement. She has been unfairly imprisoned and mistreated. It is imperative that she be released immediately and unconditionally. Additionally, I urge you to listen to her protest: Allow women in Iran to attend sporting events.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Martha T via Flickr

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